Living with hearing loss during the holiday season can be particularly difficult.
While you may actually prefer to NOT hear some of your relatives, the conversations you do wish to participate in can be stressful. And because nearly all large holiday gatherings tend to be loud, it can be near impossible to concentrate on any one person or dialogue.
In order to participate in conversation, you have to contend with background music, people talking simultaneously around the table, and the Thanksgiving football game blasting in the background. This creates an impossible scenario that can make you feel isolated and left out.
Short of making everyone repeat themselves or remaining silent, what are your options?
Truthfully, 10 years ago you didn’t have many. Older analog hearing aids could amplify speech—the issue was that they also amplified everything else, most notably background noise. Given that all sound was just made to be louder, it didn’t help much with understanding the people you were talking to.
But hearing aids have changed, and for the better. Specifically, the latest hearing aids have two features that can salvage your holiday season: background noise reduction and speech focus.
Background noise reduction
Older analog hearing aid models were in reality very simple gadgets. They consisted of a microphone, an amplifier, and a speaker. Sound was acquired by the microphone, amplified, and distributed through the speaker to the ear.
The issue was, of course, that the hearing aid couldn’t distinguish between vocalization and background sound. The amplifier made every sound louder, so unless you were in a quiet environment, you experienced a difficult time hearing voices.
Since holiday gatherings are anything but quiet, what you really need is a hearing aid that can distinguish between sounds—which is precisely what contemporary digital hearing aids can do.
Digital hearing aids, on top of containing a microphone, amplifier, and speaker, also incorporate a digital processor. As a result, sound can be translated into digital information that the hearing aid can use to differentiate between different kinds of sounds.
By identifying and labeling different types of sounds, modern hearing aids can be programmed to amplify only sounds with special traits, such as all of the frequencies you have trouble hearing. Background sounds, on the other hand, can be easily identified and suppressed.
In combination with restraining background sound, modern hearing aids can also identify and focus on speech.
Speech has a unique property in that it is composed principally of high-frequency sounds. This makes it easy for the digital processor to differentiate between conversation and background noise, which is mostly low frequency.
What’s more, digital hearing aids have what are known as directional microphones, which can locate the direction of sound. Some hearing aid models can even aim the microphones in specific directions, like the direction of the person you’re talking to.
Reserve Your Hearing Test and Appreciate the Holidays Again
Are you ready to reclaim your holiday season?
Give us a call today and we’ll help you choose among the amazing digital hearing aid technology on the market. After that, with your new hearing aids—complete 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.