Two days ago, was the World Health Organization’s World Hearing Day. Why is it always held on March 3rd? Because 3.3 resembles the shape of two ears! The theme for 2019 is “Check your hearing”, to which I’d like to append “in noisy environments” for the purposes of this blog.
Most people think that hearing loss is when you’re having trouble understanding your partner or listening to the TV, but in the past few years audiologists and researchers are becoming aware of another form of hearing loss – problems within hearing in noise.
Many people can converse easily in a quiet environment, but not as well in noise. That’s because they have difficulty isolating and toning down the background noise in favor of what they want to hear.
This phenomenon is called “hidden hearing loss” because there is no indication of any issues in a classic audiogram (hearing test results). People suffering from hidden hearing loss find it challenging to hear “above the noise” in lectures, cocktail parties, business meeting, family gatherings and so on. And because there is no apparent hearing loss, there are not many solutions available to such people. Hearing aids, which amplify all sounds everywhere, clearly are not the solution.
The ability to amplify sound in only one direction, while decreasing the volume everywhere else, is called “selective noise cancellation”, or “SNC” for short. SNC solutions allow users to participate in a specific conversation, without being distracted by the surrounding noise.
The “Check your hearing” theme for this year’s World Hearing Day is all about awareness. I encourage everyone to get their hearing checked this month. If you are having trouble hearing overall, seek treatment from a hearing professional. If you are experiencing difficulty conversing above the background noise, the right SNC solution might be just what you need.