It’s hard to hear when other noises are going on. You may have no problem hearing when it’s quiet, but everyone struggles to hear in noise. If you’ve ever struggled to pick out a conversation in a noisy space, then you already know how frustrating it can be to distinguish speech from noise. If this becomes a common occurrence it could even denote the early stages of hearing loss. While the majority of hearing tests, measure your ability to detect sounds in a sound-controlled room, many miss issues separating speech from multiple other conversations in a noisy room. This is called a hidden hearing loss, due to the difficulty in identifying it.
A Hidden Hearing Loss
A hidden hearing loss is believed to be due to damage after being exposed to loud sound. While most noise-induced hearing, loss is due to damage to the tiny cells of the inner ear, which deliver sound to the brain, it can also damage the parts of the brain that process sound, such as the temporal lobe. Hidden hearing loss is most common in younger people who may listen to hours of media on headphones at high volumes or attend loud concerts and nightclubs.
Training your Brain to Hear in Noise
Hearing loss is permanent, but some exercises can train your brain to have more ease when listening to sound. While hearing aids and assistive listening devices can help amplify sound, it takes nuance to separate different sounds in noise.
Many researchers have found that brain exercises can help in aiding more ease of speech perception in noise. While these exercises, by no means can bring back damaged hearing, regular practice is believed to sharpen the way we hunt for significant noises and prioritize them over others. When used in conjunction with hearing aids, brain exercises may increase their beneficial effects.
Hearing Loss and Cognitive Functioning
We collect sound but it must reach the brain to be understood and comprehended. When we struggle to hear, our mind is forced to work harder to fill in blanks in words and sentences. It’s common for even a small social interaction to leave the listener who has hearing loss, with a lasting sense of fatigue.
Over years, the brain will change due to hearing loss. Gradually, the way the mind hears is permanently altered and our cognitive functioning is more often diverted to other functions to compensate for the challenges of hearing and comprehension.
Treating a Hearing Loss
While there is no cure or way to reverse hearing loss, hearing aids are used to amplify the sounds that your brain struggles to hear. Due to their cutting-edge advancements, they can be digitally programmed based on your hearing exam, to enhance hearing throughout your day. This can lessen the load on your cognitive abilities and reintroduce sounds that you may not have heard in years.
Retraining your Brain
It may take your brain some time to get used to hearing these lost sounds and this is where brain exercises can help. With practice, comprehension can return gradually. Many researchers have found that playing games directed at helping people relearn to hear speech in sound has made a noted difference in a wide range of patients.
Games to Help You Hear
A team at Harvard recently reported on dramatic improvements in hearing ability with the use of a sound-focused brain training game. The game was designed to aid users with hearing loss in redeveloping their spatial sense of sound, by competing for puzzle pieces on a smart device. The researchers found that even after just a short period of playing the puzzle game, the study found a 25% increase in their subject’s abilities to detect speech in noise.
Schedule a Hearing Exam
Today, there are several games on the market designed to help you relearn to hear the full range of sounds and help you participate in the life you love with confidence. We can recommend the best games to help you hear speech in noise as well as guide you to the best treatments for your hearing loss. To find out more schedule an appointment with us today!