How Do Hearing Aids Work in Noisy Places?

Speech is difficult to understand in noisy places, but if you have hearing loss, this problem is complex. Hearing aids can help with this. Ever wonder how?

Good-quality, properly-fit hearing aids have the ability to distinguish noise from speech. They process sounds in complicated ways that help you understand speech. Yes, you DO hear more background noise than before wearing hearing aids, but the background noise does not get amplified as much as the speech does.

In addition, many hearing aids can change the direction of their focus when things start to get noisy. If you turn toward the person you want to hear, noise to the sides and back of you are lowered, while the person’s voice is increased to allow you to hear over the noise.

Understanding well in noise may not happen the first time you go to a restaurant wearing your new hearing aids. You will hear more of ALL sorts of sounds; this includes noise. It takes a little while for your brain to relearn how to filter out enough of these noises that you can understand someone speaking to you. Don’t give up! You can help by wearing your hearing aids all day and not only when you think you need them. Your brain will start filtering out those subtle environmental sounds that aren’t worthy of your attention. When it does, you will happily discover that you can hear someone talking right over the background noise.

The solution to the problem of hearing what you want to hear and filtering out the rest is next to impossible unless you are fitted with hearing aids customized to do the job for YOU and no one else. If your hearing aid fitter doesn’t get it right the first time, it’s no one’s fault (unless you’ve inadvertently chosen someone who isn’t especially good at this programming!). Ongoing adjustments are to be expected.

Stick with it! One day, you’ll find yourself in a restaurant thinking, “I can’t believe I just heard what s/he said to me, even in this noise!”

Editorial Note: Written by Laurie Bornstein, MS, CCC/A with Executive Hearing. She may be reached at 972-447-8330, or

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