Psst: Sometimes hearing aids may not fully solve your hearing firstname.lastname@example.org
Your eyes have not deceived you! Hearing aids, while very capable in compensating for diminished hearing, may not be the entire solution required to hear in some situations. Today’s hearing aids have come a long way, but there are simply some situations in which modern hearing aids, even the most advanced, cannot help you hear everything you wish to hear.
As always, the answer to the question of “Why can’t I hear in XYZ situation?” is that it depends. Let’s run through a few key points:
#1 – Your specific hearing loss is a large determining factor in how well you understand everything you wish to. When we test hearing we also measure something called “speech discrimination” which is reported as a percentage of correct words you can identify and repeat back in a list of 25 or more words. This is a measure of your ability to understand what is being said, with and without the help of amplification. Someone with a high speech discrimination score tends to be able to hear and understand with hearing aids.
Someone with a low speech discrimination score still benefits from using hearing aids, but may find difficulty hearing: from a distance, with competing sounds, at a theater or large venue, when someone is not facing them or their attention is not on the person speaking to them.
#2 – Our hearing system is a collector of sound and our brain’s are the ultimate interpreter of those sounds. Cognition problems and other limitations within our brain have a large impact on our ability to understand what we hear. This is part of the reason why speech discrimination isn’t always 100 percent. We may have “heard” it, but our brain wasn’t able to interpret it.
#3 – Environments with competing sounds are difficult for anyone, especially someone using hearing aids. Some hearing aids are better at helping to sort out the desired sound from the undesired but, this doesn’t always do the trick. The fact of the matter is that there are simply some situations where it might be difficult to hear and no hearing aid (or anyone for that matter) will be able to understand 100 percent of the time.
So what do you do about these limitations should you have them? Consult with your hearing healthcare professional about assistive devices such as loop systems, remote microphones, Bluetooth connections, etc… There are ways to maximize your hearing ability, but it is important to know of the limitations and the reasons for them.