Q: How can I hear better with background noise?
– JH, Newhall
A: Hearing with background noise can be a difficult task. When presented with noisy situations, consider these tips to help you hear more clearly:
In public places, ask to be seated in quiet areas, like next to a wall or away from heavy traffic areas. Don’t be shy with your needs — you can also request a quiet area when making your reservation. Find out the hours that are least busy and make plans to visit then.
Sit near the front of a venue or by the individual speaking. Sound weakens over distance, so sitting closer to someone will make it easier to hear him/her.
Supplement your hearing aids. Use assistive listening devices (ALDs) whenever possible. Invest in your own ALD or utilize those provided by many theaters and other venues. Look for the hearing loop logo — the blue sign with an ear on it signifies that the area is looped with a wire that will transmit sound from a speaker directly into your hearing aids. In such cases, switch your hearing aid to telecoil, or T-mode.
Relax when conversing. Listening is harder when you are tired or stressed.
Don’t become tense or nervous if you can’t understand — simply ask the speaker to repeat him/herself or ask for a statement to be reworded.
Invest in a remote control that allows you to adjust the microphone and directionality of your hearing aids. Let your family know they can help you by speaking in a normal tone, looking directly at you, speaking near you, and rephrasing, if necessary.
Q: What’s the Difference Between an Audiologist and a Hearing Aid
– CB, Valencia
A: The difference between an audiologist and a hearing aid dispenser is often confusing.
A hearing aid dispenser is an individual engaged in the fitting or selling of hearing aids to hearing impaired people. A hearing aid dispenser is focused on the sale of a specific item — hearing aids — and has the ability to test your hearing, but only as those tests relate to the fitting and sale of a hearing aid. Hearing aid dispensers are not required to have a degree in hearing health, while audiologists require a university degree (M.A., M.S. or Au.D.).
Audiologists are the primary health care professionals who evaluate, diagnose, treat, and manage hearing loss. They provide treatments by cleaning the ear canal; fitting hearing aids and assistive devices; conducting auditory training, fitting and tuning cochlear implants; counseling patients and families; and conducting programs in aural rehabilitation.
More than any other hearing care professional, audiologists understand how the degree of hearing loss affects communication and quality of life. Audiologists understand the emotional and physical issues involved with hearing loss and can address the fears and problems that can arise from this condition.
They build their practice on the care of hearing — not on the sale of hearing aids. Rehabilitation and technical training offered by an audiologist result in a more holistic approach to solving hearing problems. Educating and counseling patients and their families about hearing loss is an essential part of an audiologist’s mission.
Q: When should I have my hearing checked?
– LB, Valencia
A: Despite the rapid growth of hearing loss — which is now the third most common health condition in the United States — there is little national attention to healthy hearing. Many individuals don’t understand how to avoid or prevent hearing damage, how to recognize subtle changes in hearing, or even when to see an audiologist.
We have our teeth and eyes regularly seen by doctors as part of our efforts to remain healthy. Why should your hearing be held in any less regard?
When your hearing levels are checked regularly, it becomes easier for an audiologist to notice a change in your hearing — just as an ophthalmologist can recognize changes in your eyesight.
A base level is also important because most individuals remain unaware of the fact that their hearing may be compromised. It is often assumed that if a change in hearing isn’t a bother, then it doesn’t need to be treated. The truth of the matter is that your ears do more than just help you hear. Hearing is one of your most reliable senses and it’s easy to take it for granted.
Hearing is just as tied to whole body health as are your eyes and teeth, and it is one of the simplest things you can address to keep your mental and physical health as you age. Having your hearing checked regularly will keep you aware of your ears, the latest research on keeping good hearing, and any damage that needs to be addressed.
Pay attention to your hearing — make sure you keep your whole world within your grasp.
If you or a loved one may be experiencing hearing loss and want to learn more, contact our experts at Nola Aronson’s Advanced Audiology, (661) 250-6905.
If you have questions you’d like to “Ask the Audiologist,” email