Dealing with hearing loss during the holiday season can be particularly challenging.
While you may actually prefer to NOT hear some of your relatives, the discussions you do want to engage in can be stressful. And because nearly all large holiday gatherings tend to be loud, it can be nearly impossible to concentrate on any one person or conversation.
In order to engage in conversation, you have to cope with background music, people talking all at once around the table, and the Thanksgiving football game blasting in the background. This produces an impossible situation that can make you feel isolated and excluded.
Short of making everyone repeat themselves or remaining silent, what are your choices?
Truthfully, 10 years ago you didn’t have many. The older analog hearing aids could amplify speech—the issue was that they also amplified everything else, including background noise. Given that all sound was just made to be louder, it didn’t help a great deal with understanding the person you were talking to.
But hearing aids have changed, and for the better. In particular, contemporary hearing aids have two features that can salvage your holiday season: background noise reduction and speech focus.
Background noise suppression
Earlier analog hearing aid models were in truth very straightforward devices. They consisted of a microphone, an amplifier, and a speaker. Sound was detected by the microphone, amplified, and sent through the speaker to the ear.
The challenge was, of course, that the hearing aid couldn’t differentiate between vocalization and background noise. The amplifier made every sound louder, so unless you were in a quiet setting, you experienced a tough time hearing voices.
Since holiday parties are anything but quiet, what you really need is a hearing aid that can distinguish between sounds—which is precisely what modern digital hearing aids can accomplish.
Digital hearing aids, along with containing a microphone, amplifier, and speaker, also include a digital processor. As a result, sound can be transformed into digital information that the hearing aid can utilize to differentiate between various types of sounds.
By distinguishing and labeling different kinds of sounds, today’s hearing aids can be programmed to amplify only sounds with targeted properties, such as all of the frequencies you have trouble hearing. Background sounds, on the other hand, can be conveniently identified and repressed.
In combination with suppressing background sound, modern hearing aids can also recognize and focus on speech.
Speech has a unique feature in that it is composed mainly of high-frequency sounds. This makes it easy for the digital processor to distinguish between speech and background noise, which is principally low frequency.
What’s more, digital hearing aids have what are called directional microphones, which can locate the direction of sound. Some hearing aid models can even focus the microphones in specific directions, such as the direction of the person you’re speaking with.
Schedule Your Hearing Test and Make the Most Of the Holidays Again
Are you ready to reclaim your holiday season?
Give us a call today and we’ll help you choose among the extraordinary digital hearing aid technology available to you. Then, with your new hearing aids—outfitted with background noise suppression and speech focus—you’ll have the ability to hear all of the conversations with comfort and clarity.
As for the relatives you don’t want to hear? Not to worry, the hearing aids also come equipped with an off button.