- Make sure you have your hearing checked every year after the age of 55. If you wear hearing aids, this is critical for the performance of your hearing aid. When you have hearing aids, you need to see your hearing center at least once a year for a new audiogram and fitting. I recommend that my patients do this around their birthday to make the anniversary easy to remember.
- Avoid sitting in the middle of the room. Acoustically, this is the most challenging place to hear. Try to sit in a corner or in a booth with a high back. Soft surfaces reduce the echo effect, so look for them when choosing a seat in a restaurant.
- The hearing impaired brain process sound differently in noise than those without hearing loss. According to a recent study at Perdue University, the auditory neurons of persons with hearing loss process sound differently than persons with normal hearing. Past studies showed no difference, "...but when the same tests are conducted in a noisy environment, there is a physical difference in how auditory nerve fibers respond to sound." (http://www.purdue.edu/newsroom/releases/2012/Q3/study-hearing-impaired-ears-hear-differently-in-noisy-environments.html) What this all means is, that hearing in noise is more challenging if you have a hearing impairment due to the nature of the way the sound is processed in noise. More research is necessary to find out its affect on real world noises
- Auditory Training or LACE is ideal for re-teaching the brain to hear in noise. This program is new and so far it seems to work very well. It does require a small financial commitment, (about $75-$100) and you must use the program about three days a week for 6 weeks. You can find more information about this program at http://www.neurotone.com
- If your hearing aid is wireless, you can ask your hearing professional if there are any accessories that can help you in noisy rooms. Many manufacturers now have special microphones that can connect to your hearing aids with out wires! Hearing aids can also connect to other devices such as Bluetooth phones, televisions, Ipods, your computer, and just about any other media device.
- How old are your hearing aids? Your hearing aids should last 5-7 years, however if your hearing changes, you may outgrow your circuitry. For example, you have that cute little CIC in your ear and it has 35dB receiver in it. This means that it will amplify a signal a maximum of 35dB, but if your hearing changes and you now need additional amplification you will have to change something in your hearing device. To save money you can send it in for repair and ask if a more powerful receiver is available. If it is not possible to change the receiver, then you must purchase a new unit.
- Go to fittings EVERY YEAR! Your hearing aid cannot perform to its maximum benefit if you do not have it programmed correctly. Your hearing aid responds to the audiogram that is inside it, and if that is off, then your instrument may not be at its peak performance.
Make sure you communicate with your provider, and let them know if anything could be better. The more descriptive you are, the easier it is for them to correct the problem.