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Hearing Aids Automatically Adjust for Different Noise Levels

Boys Town Hearing and Balance Center

Most of us are in many different listening situations throughout the day. We spend time in quiet offices, attend noisy ball games, go to concerts and lectures, stop in at shopping malls and eat at restaurants. These constantly changing environments present a challenge for people wearing hearing aids.

Hearing aid manufacturers are actively addressing the need for listening in changing conditions. Newer hearing aids can sample the listening environment and automatically change settings for optimal speech understanding and comfort.

Many newer hearing aids now have:

  • Automatic volume controls that provide more amplification for soft voices when the listening conditions are quiet and less overall amplification when sounds and conditions are loud.
  • Directional microphones that improve the ability of the hearing aid user to understand conversation in background noise by reducing amplification for sounds coming from behind the listener and maintaining amplification of speech coming from the front. Some hearing aids can also be adjusted to reduce amplification for sounds coming from one side and maintaining amplification for speech and sounds coming the opposite side; this would be helpful in a situation such as travelling in a car.
  • Noise reduction circuitry that improves the user's listening comfort in louder environments by reducing amplification for pitches where constant noise is detected.
  • Automatic phone programs that “turn on" when the phone receiver is near and “turn off" when hanging up and moving away from the phone.
  • Circuits that recognize music and adjust the hearing aid settings for improved music sound quality.
  • Feedback cancellation circuits that monitor for hearing aid “whistling" and reduce, eliminate or prevent it.
  • Impact-noise sensors that reduce amplification for sudden loud sounds, such as a door slam or a shout.
  • Wind-noise sensors that identify the presence of wind and actively reduce the loudness and annoyance of that signal.

While these new features cannot guarantee perfect hearing for every user in every situation, they improve hearing aid users’ listening comfort and satisfaction. Learn more about the Boys Town Hearing and Balance Center.

Hearing Aids Hearing and Balance