This, unfortunately, is a common complaint I hear from a lot of patients. Part of the issue is that there are normally a lot of people talking in this kind of environment & although we talk about noise, noise is often other speech. Also, the environment can be echoey & reverberant so the aid effectively amplifies the sound twice. Finally, as people get older their brain's processing ability diminishes meaning if a younger person had the same aid as you & on paper the same hearing ability they will often hear a lot better.
As was stated earlier by Clifford Olson AUD, a remote mic is really the best way to counteract this. The Roger option when laid on the table will pick up sound from all around which still might mean it is hard to hear, but it can be pointed at the person you are trying to hear or placed round the neck of the person you want to speak to & this is the best way to hear someone in a more challenging environment.
If you want a landline phone the Phonak Dect Phone II directs the sound to both hearing aids as you lift it to the ears & works so well some patients have chosen a Phonak just for this feature.
With modern TV's their thinner design does not leave a lot of space for good quality speakers so wirelessly transmitting the sound directly to your hearing aids is the best way to hear.
As an alternative some people use headphones but then they are cut off from people around them. If you stream the sound to the aids someone speaking can still be heard as the aids by default are set to hear the TV & speech.
Most importantly if you deal with a smaller independent service that offers home visits they can demonstrate & set up the system for you & tweak it to your environment. I found handing people a bunch of boxes while working in a National Chain & wishing them the best often led to disappointment.
You have just asked the million dollar hearing aid question. In short, there is no hearing aid that exists today that will help you hear significantly better in that specific environment. This is the exact situation where you need to use other accessories such as a remote microphone or Roger Pen to help you cut through the background noise.
In this situation, I usually recommend Phonak hearing aids while using the Phonak Roger Pen. In my opinion, the Phonak Roger Pen is the greatest accessory that exists today for hearing in background noise, pairing with a phone, and TV. It does all three very well. Other hearing aids can be made to work with the Phonak Roger Pen, but ultimately, the Pen can be integrated directly with Phonak hearing aids using integrated receivers.
If you want to hear in that environment, you have to use a remote microphone of some sort. It is the ONLY way to hear better. Oh, and you also need to make sure the hearing aids are programmed to your prescription for the accessory to work its best. I will be posting a video on my YouTube page in the next 48 hours to show you how the Roger Pen works.
I suggest stepping up in technology with a more advanced set of hearing instruments. The more advanced the better you will do in noise. Plus it will also come with more features that will work with telephone and with television. Other manufactures offer better technology and more advanced hearing instruments with better hearing ability.
Hearing in a noisy reverberant room is exceptionally hard, however I have had success with MiFi (Made for iPhone) type hearing aids such as Widex Beyond, Starkey HaloIQ, and Resound LinxHD. The reason for this is because it connects directly with an iPhone, and you can control sound in the room better than a static memory slot. For example, you can reduce low frequencies, increase mid and high frequencies, etc... I have found that when I am in a loud reverberant room, that making a few tweaks to these frequencies really helps. A critical thing to note is that the better a hearing aid works in noise, the more expensive it will get. This is true of all brands of hearing aids. I would suggest asking your local hearing aid center if you could borrow a demo aid and figure out which works best.
Secondly, as the brain ages, it becomes more difficult to pick out a specific signal among others. This means that with noise around speech from a single source is more difficult to discern. One proven method of making this better is an online program by Neurotone called LACE. You can check it out online and judge for yourself. It does require commitment though, you must actually do the program daily for a period of about six weeks.
For television, I would suggest one of two things. A) something like TV Ears B) a direct linking device to your TV to hearing aid. C) IPhone hearing aids have a function called "Live Listen" which makes your phone into a remote microphone. Activate the phone in this mode and leave it next to the source you want to hear. It works very well.
There are several factors which can affect your success with amplification in a noise environment. These include, but are not limited to, your hearing levels, time spent with hearing loss before seeking help, how long you’ve consistently worn well fitting hearing aids (your brain needs to adjust to using the amplification successfully), how much expertise and attention you receive from your hearing aid professional (hopefully an audiologist with experience fitting hearing aids who has provided multiple follow-up visits to fine-tune your hearing aids), how well you know your own hearing aids (what they are capable of and how to use them effectively). These factors are very individual. That being said, here are things all consumers can look for:
1. Hearing aids which automatically reduce the background noise can be helpful since this eliminates user error when having to choose the correct program for the listening situation. But remember that no hearing aid, however sophisticated, can make noise “go away”. The physics of sound make it impossible to delete noise from the environment.
2. Choose the appropriate style and technology for YOUR individual hearing loss and listening needs. For instance, if you have moderate to severe hearing loss, but have been fit with the ‘open fit’ style of hearing aids, the help in background noise may be minimal. You may do better with a fit that closes up the ear more. The open fit style is comfortable and more natural sounding, but no matter the technology and features in the hearing aid, we cannot reduce noise that slips in around the open fitting canal domes usually used with this style. We can only reduce noise that goes through the microphone, processor and then back into your ear through the speaker. For someone with mild hearing loss (or normal) in the low pitches, but severe to profound in the high pitches this open fit may be great. There is no ‘one size fits all’ in successful hearing aid fittings. Unfortunately, that is just what many providers offer.
3. The price of hearing aids usually indicates the sophistication of noise reduction in a particular device. Yes, the more $$, the more features to help reduce noise and emphasize speech. However, more is not always more. I have seen many people with the most expensive aids out there but for whom those aids have been set up inappropriately, or they have not been trained properly in how to use the advanced features. The technology level you need depends on so many individual factors. I cannot go over them all in this post, but suffice it to say that you need an experienced audiologist who understands what is available, can help you figure out what is unique about your needs and help you pick the right hearing aid for the job.
4. Once you have the right hearing aids, the right physical fit, the right features, then the work has just begun. Those hearing aids have to be set up appropriately and uniquely for every individual. You have to know how to use them correctly and effectively. You also need to be trained in how to manipulate your environment in order for those features to be most effective against noise. You need to be consistent and wear those hearing aids as many waking hours as you can. Then keep a journal and go over any difficulties with your audiologist during the follow-up visits. “They are too loud” or “Noise is too loud” are very general comments and are not particularly helpful. Be specific: “I sit right by the kitchen in the dining room and the sound of pots and pans is uncomfortable and keeps me from hearing conversation at my table”. NOW THAT IS SOMETHING YOU AND I CAN WORK WITH!
I would ask my hearing specialist to help test out a dedicated dining room program while playing noise and background during the adjustments. With Real Ear and Live Speech mapping, we can visually see and test the effect that noise is having and do a better job adjusting. The Alta 2 Pro is a good aid but perhaps ask about the Signia Primax product line. My clients seem to feel that provides a more relaxed listening experience in noise. Resound and Starkey make a great solution for noise as well. And I'm sorry but you are not going to find many people with success hearing in noise with a Costco solution.
There have been some great answers to this question so far. I agree that a remote microphone of some sort would be a big help. The Roger Pen is obviously the best device on the market, being the next generation of the FM system, but can be costly on top of the hearing aids. Many manufacturers offer a basic remote microphone that will be bundled with the hearing aids at no extra cost. I personally use GN ReSound for these types of situations.
Another point was to find a provider that understands your needs and lifestyle. This is by far the most important aspect of hearing care. It doesn't matter how much you spend on your hearing aids if you can't have a meaningful relationship with the person programming them. Essentially they need to take every piece of feedback, every complaint and translate it into something that can be adjusted on the computer, then explain to you what has changed in a way you can understand.
One solution I found for a similar patient was to go out to the nursing home at her lunch time and adjust the hearing aids while she had a conversation with her sister. If your provider offers home visits something similar may be an option.
Best of luck!
I wear hearing aids and I, too, always have had trouble hearing in a noise environment. I now wear hearing aids that assist greatly with my understanding in a noise environment. I have a separate noise program that utilizes a direct microphone set up and that helps me. A Provider will need to take time to understand your hearing loss, how well your brain processes words and your particular environment noise level. Streaming devices and remote microphones can also be very helpful. A more premium hearing aid, one that will perform better in higher noise environments such as a group dining area, can also be helpful but a trusted Provider can assist in the best approach for your individual needs and budget.
It sounds like you need to find a provider who understands your specific listening needs, evaluates your ability to hear in noise and will recommend the right solutions. Success starts by being in the right hands. There is technology to help, and the provider you see needs to set realistic expectations for you based on your hearing ability and lifestyle.
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