Though they are similar, hearing a sound and understanding it are not the same thing. Imagine you are out to dinner at a busy restaurant. Maybe you have friends visiting from out of town and decide to take them to Jack Fry’s. It’s packed inside and there is live jazz music playing in the background. Your friend is trying to catch you up on how work has been going. You can hear him speak, but you can’t quite make out every word. With all the background noise it’s just a little too hard to follow.
That’s the difference between hearing and understanding. Thankfully, if you struggle with hearing loss, using hearing aids can help you better understand sound.
Why Distraction Makes Understanding Sound Harder
To understand your friend, the sound must go through your middle ear, inner ear, and auditory nerve to the brain. The brain must then process those sounds for you to register and comprehend what they are saying. At the same time, you must filter out all the noise from other restaurant-goers, servers and live music. That’s a lot of work!
Even people who don’t struggle with hearing loss can have problems understanding speech when there are other distractions happening at the same time.
Have you ever had to turn the music down in your car when you were trying to read street signs? Or found yourself focusing on a task so intently that you realized you hadn’t really followed what was being said on the podcast to which you were listening? This is because your brain can’t process all that information at the same time.
Hearing Loss and Speech
People who have hearing loss have greater struggles comprehending speech than those without. A 2017 study explored the relationship between hearing loss and the ability to understand time-compressed (sped up) speech. They found that even when adjusting for age, people with hearing loss had lower speech-recognition scores than those with no hearing loss. The more severe the hearing loss, the worse the ability to comprehend compressed speech.
How Hearing Aids Can Help
Hearing aids are designed to help you pick up speech, even in loud conditions. Your hearing expert can help you pick out the right pair and program them to meet your individual needs and preferences. Using your hearing aids daily will put less stress on your brain and help you process sound better.
To learn more about hearing aids or to schedule an appointment with a hearing loss expert, contact Heuser Hearing Institute today.