Hearing loss comes in all shapes and sizes. Some people find that they can’t hear things in the very high-frequency range, while others have trouble with very quiet sounds of all kinds. Many people describe hearing loss in terms of limited communication ability, and one of the most common complaints is the inability to hear when there is background noise. Whether you find yourself on a loud form of transportation, in a room with television playing in the background, or at an echoing restaurant, background noise can compete with the sounds of voices to make it difficult to hear what others have to say. Let’s take a moment to strategize what you can do if you have trouble hearing in the context of background noise. Although the best solution is to seek treatment for hearing loss, there are other steps you can take to bring down the volume on the noise in a room.
Tips for Restaurants
Restaurants are some of the most difficult places for those with hearing loss. Not only is the background noise of music and other diners’ voices loud enough to compete with your companions, but these settings are designed for conversation. When you find yourself at a restaurant, you will likely want to talk with your group, but the structural features of the room and the social context can make it very difficult. Some planning is a good way to set yourself up for success. Start by making a call to the restaurant prior to your visit. Do they have a place that naturally reduces background noise, such as a side room or a booth that serves as a natural barrier? You might want to plan your visit for a time when fewer diners will be present, such as a late lunch or an early dinner.
You can also familiarize yourself with the menu prior to arriving. With an idea about your order already in place, you can save yourself from an awkward conversation with a waiter who is difficult to hear. Once you are in the restaurant, location is key. Try to sit in the middle of the group, if possible, because hearing others on the periphery of the table is difficult for anyone. If you have an ally within your group, such as a family member who knows about your hearing loss, try sitting side-by-side. Your companion can help by relaying information at a closer distance and translating when others’ speech becomes difficult to understand.
Tips for Other Noisy Settings
Restaurants are not the only places where background noise can be an issue. When you find yourself in another noisy place, communication about your needs is the most important step. Let others know what would help you communicate more easily. For some, this accommodation might be as simple as turning down the volume on the television. Rather than calling out from a room where the TV is playing, you can ask your friends or family members to wait to talk to you until you are in the same room together. Looking face-to-face is often the best way to understand others; whether you realize it or not, you are likely reading mouth movements and facial expressions to get extra information in the conversation. When you are in a very loud place such as a construction site or on a noisy mode of transportation, you might want to ask your companions to pause the conversation until conditions are more amenable to understanding what they have to say.
Despite following these tips for better communication amidst background noise, untreated hearing loss will remain a challenge in many of these settings. In many cases, such as noise-induced hearing loss, the condition can get worse with time. With these facts in mind, the only durable solution for hearing loss is to seek treatment
Treating Hearing Loss
Although following helpful tips can make it possible to get by in the short term, your ability to communicate in the long term will be assisted greatly by hearing aids or other assistive devices. Don’t delay getting the help you need to communicate. Make the appointment today for a diagnostic assessment with one of our hearing health professionals.