Optimize Hearing Ability in Noisy Environments
If you’re struggling with hearing loss, an invitation for a group outing at a new restaurant can cause anxiety. Restaurants are notorious for being noisy – with all the different conversations going on, loud music playing, and clanking dishes, restaurants can create unique challenges for those with hearing loss. And the dim and visually busy environment can make it even harder to pick up on visual hints or cues. Fortunately for people with hearing loss, there are ways to thrive in these environments so you can enjoy your time with friends and loved ones. Here are some strategies for improving your hearing in these environments and how a Doctor of Audiology can help.
Hearing Aids and Directionality
A well-programmed hearing aid can make all the difference when it comes to day-to-day functioning. However, not all hearing aids will be productive when it comes to focusing on specific conversations in a loud and cluttered setting. That’s because hearing aids tend to amplify all nearby sounds, not just the ones you want to hear – making it hard to focus. Some of the most modern and advanced hearing aids have a feature called directionality, which may be automatic or offer programmable options. This allows your hearing aids to pick up sound only where most appropriate – for example, right in front of you or within a specific range. This allows you to hear only the conversation at your table or directly around you.
Assisted Listening Devices
Assisted listening devices can be a beneficial addition to your hearing aids. If you’re still struggling to hear someone speak in a loud restaurant environment, a remote microphone placed on the table or your dining partner’s shirt can stream the conversation directly to your hearing aids. If you have an iPhone, you can even use the Live Listen feature which doubles as a microphone that can connect to headphones or Bluetooth hearing aids.
Strategies and Tips
A few different adjustments to your dining experience can help you keep up with the conversation, too. Consider a few of these options:
- Opt for seating arrangements with good lighting so you can see visual cues
- Choose outdoor seating where available since these areas tend to be quieter
- Position yourself so your back faces the majority of the noise and commotion
- Where possible, get a booth or enclosed seating area that offers better sound privacy
- Avoid sitting near speakers or areas like the kitchen which may be noisier
If you’re dining with a group, sit at the center of the table