Many people with hearing loss have trouble with hearing sensitivity, particularly with specific sound frequencies. There is a substantial portion of the hearing loss population that have difficulty hearing despite their normal hearing sensitivity.
Although not as common as hearing sensitivity-related hearing loss, an inability to hear normally without any changes in hearing sensitivity is a problem that affects tens of millions of Americans. This condition can take a few different forms but often presents as an inability to understand speech-in-noise despite the fact that they’re hearing within the range of normal limits.
People with this condition often find that while their hearing test results, come back normal, they can’t quite pick out someone talking if there’s a lot of background noise. This often results in a decreased quality of life as these patients’ hearing difficulties can easily be overlooked. When people with this condition seek out hearing healthcare, they may be told that they’re hearing within normal limits and are not provided with treatments that may help restore their quality of life.
There are several different treatments and therapies for people living with hearing difficulties but have hearing sensitivity within normal limits. Here are some of the possible options for improving these people’s communication abilities and enhancing their quality of life:
Well-Fitted Hearing Aids
Several studies have found that any person with hearing difficulties could be a candidate for a hearing aid, regardless of the cause of their hearing issues. Especially for people with hearing difficulties that present with hearing sensitivity within normal limits, conventional wisdom might suggest that they do not need a hearing aid, but research shows that upward of 85% of normal-sensitivity people with hearing loss thought their hearing aids were a worthwhile investment.
Remote Microphone Systems
A remote microphone system is a radio device containing a remote microphone that can capture auditory information and transfer it to a person’s hearing aids. These systems have been shown to improve a listener’s speech recognition abilities even when coupled with significant background noise. Research has shown that these systems can increase someone’s speech-in-noise recognition by at least 60% in the real world, so they may be a good option for people with hearing difficulties.
Potential Technological Benefits
For people with normal sensitivity hearing that struggle with hearing difficulties, it is easy to feel alienated or left out by hearing sensitivity-dependent test results that do not account for other forms of hearing issues. The literature suggests that there are a few different technologically-advanced treatment options available for people who with hearing difficulties that don’t quite qualify as hearing loss.
A set of well-fitted hearing aids, especially when coupled with remote microphone systems, have the potential to drastically improve the quality of life with people who struggle to identify speech-in-noise. Since the ability to have conversations and stay active in social situations is critical to a high quality of life, these technologies are crucial for the long-term overall health of people with hearing difficulties.