Latest posts by Mark Rahman, BC-HIS (see all)
- Can Hearing Loss Be Cured? - October 22, 2019
- Growing Evidence that Noise is Bad for Your Health - September 29, 2019
- Tired of Loud Restaurants? This App Will Help - September 24, 2019
Difficulty hearing in noisy places is often one of the first noticeable signs of hearing loss. That’s because filtering out background noise is a fairly complex process that requires precise auditory input from both ears.
Planning ahead with hearing loss
Although you can’t repair damaged cells, you can prevent further loss by limiting your exposure to loud noises. Most conversations occur between 40 and 60 decibels; any sound higher than 85 decibels puts you at risk. Common culprits include smartphones, music players and sound speakers that can blast out as many as 105 decibels. If your hearing loss is starting to affect your everyday activities, talk to your doctor about hearing aids.
Even though hearing aid technology has come a long way in the past decade, it’s still not as sophisticated as your body’s natural hearing mechanism. That means your hearing aids aren’t able to filter out background noise as well as you might like. While there’s no doubt hearing aids can make a world of difference in your quality of life, you can increase their effectiveness by utilizing these additional tips in social situations:
- Plan ahead by choosing a quieter restaurant. Carpet, chairs that roll, plants and other sound-absorbent material will make it easier to hear the conversation.
- Pick a table in the least noisy part of the restaurant – away from the kitchen, bar or wait service stations.
- Ask to be seated in a well-lit area so you can see faces during the conversation.
- Let the wait staff know you have hearing loss and it’s easier for you to understand what is being said when they speak slower, a bit louder and face you directly.
In a noisy environment like a restaurant, a person with normal hearing will still be able to hear a companion, but in that same environment, a hearing-impaired person will hear chairs scraping, dishes clanking, waiters shouting, all of it bouncing off the high ceilings, the bare walls, the chic metallic tables and chairs an anxiety-provoking wall of noise. Worst of all is the restaurants background music, sometimes competing with a different sound track throbbing in the kitchen.
Yelp for Noise
Wouldn’t it be great if you as a person with hearing loss could know the sound level of the environment you were opting to participate in when selecting a restaurant before hand? Gregory Scott Farber has invented a new app called SoundPrint, which he describes, as “Yelp for noise.” The free program allows users to search for and grade restaurants and bars according to their sound level.
Farber, who suffers from permanent hearing loss, brought on by meningitis says that he created the app out of his desire to date and find love -or, at least, a place to take someone on a date.
“When I was dating, I put a lot of effort into trying to pick quiet spots,” he said. “I’d Google ‘quiet restaurants.’ Then I would show up, and it would be blaring.” His hearing aid helped, but not enough. “Out of curiosity, I started taking decibel measurements.” He sent a list of his favorite serene haunts to friends in the hearing-loss community, and was soon inundated with requests.
Farber launched SoundPrint last April as labor of love. He has yet to receive any revenue for the app but sleeps well that he is creating a database for others with hearing impairments like his own. The app includes a sound-level meter, so that diners and drinkers can take measurements using their smartphones, and upload them to the database. SoundPrint covers about two thousand cities, though only fifteen have a significant number of users.
Gulf Gate Hearing Aid Center
Whether you’re a new hearing aid user or are a veteran of the technology, remember to visit us at Gulf Gate Hearing Aid Center for a hearing aid checkup on a regular basis — as soon as possible if you are bothered by the amount of background noise you’re hearing. Above all, remember — even people with normal hearing experience greater difficulty in noisy listening environments. So, have realistic expectations, invest in good technology and now you can use SoundPrint to anticipate background noise when you go out and keep background to a minimum.