Hearing Hacks

According to Wikipedia.org, “life hacking” refers to any trick, shortcut, skill or novelty method that increases productivity or efficiency, in any walk of life. Or simply anything that solves an everyday problem in an inspired, ingenious manner. In a world full of important (and often unimportant) sounds, anyone with normal or impaired hearing can stand to benefit from hearing life hacks. Do you think you have hearing loss? Do you struggle to hear in noisy situations? Do you strain to hear on a cellphone? If you answered yes to even one of these questions, here are several hearing hacks that may get you on your way to better hearing.

Check your hearing with a smartphone app:
If you think you may have hearing loss but you aren’t sure, download SoundCheck to quickly screen your hearing. Screening results are displayed in an easy-to-understand format with a detailed view of the results. The app also features a sound level meter that shows you the noise levels in your environment.

A quick trick to hear speech or music better:
Though two ears are always better than one, research from University of California, Los Angeles and the University of Arizona revealed that the right and left ear each have their own unique strengths! The right ear is superior at processing speech and the left excels in processing musical sounds and tones. So when you are having difficulty hearing what someone is saying, turn your right ear towards the conversation. When you find yourself straining to hear a song, turn your left ear towards the music source.

Get a better night of sleep:
A number of research studies and physicians report that the use of sound may assist in obtaining a good night of sleep. Soft background sound (e.g. white noise, relaxation sounds) can create a relaxing environment but also provide a constant ambient sound that can help mask activity from inside and outside the bedroom. The next time you struggle to fall asleep, try turning on fan or download a noise-generating app to your smartphone.

Improve your listening skills:
Play listening games to improve your hearing-in-noise skills. Research indicates that challenging and training the auditory system to listen to speech in the presence of background noise can improve an individual’s performance in those situations. Check out HearCoach and ReadMyQuips to start working out your hearing skill muscles.

Experience better hearing in a restaurant:
There are a number of things you can do to have a more pleasurable listening experience while dining:

  • Request a table that is in a quieter spot. Sitting near the kitchen or the bar can introduce a great deal of unwanted background noise. Sitting on the peripheries of the restaurant away from these areas is a quick and easy way to improve your listening environment.
  • Request a booth. A booth helps to dampen background/surrounding sounds, providing a more favorable listening situation.
  • Request a round table instead of square. This will help you see everyone’s face and follow conversations easier.
  • Consider the time of day. Going to a restaurant when it is less busy and more likely to be favorably lit can greatly improve your restaurant experience.
  • If you struggle to hear someone because they are a soft talker or they mumble, make sure to sit next to them. Also, if you have a better hearing ear make sure to sit with the better ear towards the speaker.
  • Sit with your back to the wall.

Better cellphone conversations:
There are a number of helpful tips to hear better with your cellphone!

  • If you don’t wear hearing aids, try using headphones that have a microphone. Headphones not only help block out unwanted environmental sounds but also give you access to the phone call in stereo. This can reduce the strain required to listen on the phone and may improve your understanding.
  • When possible, take phones calls using the speakerphone feature on your phone. Again, two ears are better than one!
  • Take advantage of technology and make video phone calls using Skype or FaceTime. Research has consistently shown that the combination of visual and audio information greatly improves speech understanding.
  • If you wear wireless hearing aids, get a streaming accessory or Made for iPhone hearing aids to directly stream, in stereo sound quality, phone calls directly to your hearing aids.

We can all stand to hear better in our day-to-day lives so go ahead and give some of these hearing hacks a try! However, if you are struggling to hear in most situations, I highly recommend you see a qualified hearing healthcare professional. Hearing aid technology, though not a life hack, is the best way to improve everyday hearing. We would happily provide a free hearing consultation and demonstration of the newest technology in hearing aids.  Contact Pacific Audiology Center in Salem, Oregon at (503) 400-7003 today to learn more.