Have you ever noticed that the TV is so loud in the morning and you were the last to watch it the night before?
Hearing should be effortless, and if we don’t hear well, we work hard trying to hear everything throughout our day. By the time we get to the end of our day, we want to relax and not work so hard. So, you turn the TV up to make it easy. This why some people even have headaches at the end of the day: because they are so focused on trying to understand everything being said.
Reading lips is something everyone does to help them hear in complex environments; as we lose our hearing our eyes automatically take over the extra work. The change in the quality of our hearing can happen so slowly we don’t realize we even have hearing loss. We start telling people to look at us when they talk, or people mumble. Therefore, it is so important to have baseline testing done every year or two.
Most people do not even feel they have a hearing loss until they are missing 15% – 20% of their word recognition. When you do not hear cues that help you distinguish between a “B” or a “V”, “boat” could be “vote”. This is called auditory deprivation, and it happens when the speech center begins to atrophy. When this happens, we need not only to see what people are saying, we need to use the subject matter to help us understand. When we miss 30% or more this is where subject matter and seeing the person starts to fail.
For example, if a person says “I’m going to make a rake” or “I’m going to bake a cake” two letters make all the difference and become completely different subjects. If you add a group setting where multiple people are talking simultaneously, it becomes even more difficult. Background noise starts to cover up the cues to help tell the difference between the “B” and “V”.
Hearing aids are supposed to help you understand speech, not just make things louder. Most people expect things to be louder and don’t understand really what they should be looking for. Low frequencies are where we find volume or loudness. In men’s voices or background noise, the sense of loudness is found in the lows.
High frequencies are where we find clarity, and two-thirds of our understanding is in the highs. Women and children’s voices are in the high range, but there is no volume. Because of that lack of volume in the high frequencies, we don’t notice we are losing our hearing of high frequencies. This can also contribute to why so many women claim their husbands have “selective hearing”–the husband can hear men’s voices, and then says his wife mumbles. Technically they are both right, because each experience is real to them. It all has to do with everything hearing!
Finding the Right Hearing Aids
Now that we have established how our hearing works, it is important to know that frequency ranges in hearing aids are not the same, and algorithms are different from manufacturer to manufacturer. I have found that people are not getting all the help that they should in the high frequencies and therefore they end up losing more word recognition over the 3 – 4 years wearing their new devices.
When they lose more word recognition, people tend to think that their hearing aids are not working…when in fact, most of the time the device is working just as well as when they first purchased it. Therefore, the average person purchases hearing aids every 3 – 4 years. If they would have had the right hearing aids for their needs and had them fitted properly, they could get 7-10 years out of the hearing aids.
I hope you found this helpful; I love to teach people about their hearing because nobody is going to take care of you as well as you. You need to know what to look for, and it will save you money and your hearing health over time!
Rick Fauvor, BC – HIS
Founder & CEO