Why Can't You Hear People Very Well with Mild Background Noise?

an older patient cupping his hand to his ear to hear better

If you have noticed that you can’t hear people very well when there is mild background noise, then you are experiencing some form of hearing loss. There are different types of hearing loss, different severities and different causes, and it is best to know which you have before you can talk to your audiologist about treating it. As such, if you notice that this is happening to you, then you should book an appointment with your audiologist so that they can schedule you for a hearing test to find out what kind of hearing loss you are experiencing. 

Types of hearing loss

There are different types of hearing loss. The first one is called sensorineural hearing loss which is the most common type. What this means is that the inner ear nerves and hair cells have been damaged in some way, resulting in your hearing level being decreased. There are ways to help manage the symptoms of this type of hearing loss, but it is largely not possible to treat with medicine or surgery.

The second type of hearing loss is called conductive hearing loss. This is where there is an obstruction in the outer or middle ear which is causing the hearing loss to occur. This usually happens where there is a build-up of earwax, a build-up of fluid or even a tumor. If you have conductive hearing loss, usually this can be treated with medicine or surgery, and your hearing will go back to normal.

There is mixed hearing loss which is a mixture of the two above.

There are four different severities for all hearing loss types. First, there is mild, where you may hear some speech sounds, but will have difficulty hearing softer sounds. Then there is moderate where you will struggle to understand speech when someone is talking at a normal level. Severe hearing loss is where you hear little to no speech at normal levels and only some loud noises. And finally, profound in which you may only hear very loud sounds or none. If you are struggling to hear when there is background noise, it is likely that you are experiencing moderate hearing loss but talk to your audiologist about this.

Causes of hearing loss

There are many things that can cause hearing loss to occur. As we age, we are all likely to lose some level of our hearing. Some of the things that can cause sensorineural hearing loss include ageing, excessive noise exposure, diabetes, stroke, hypertension and many others. The best thing that you can do if you want to try and avoid this for as long as possible is to avoid excessive loud noises, as this is one of the most common causes. 

Some of the causes of conductive hearing loss include ear infections resulting in a build-up of fluid or pus, wax build-up, foreign objects in the ear canal and even abnormal growths. It’s important that you book an appointment with your audiologist to see if they can find the cause of your hearing loss because once you have done this, it is going to be easier to treat. 

Background noise

So, if you are having trouble when it comes to hearing with mild background noise, it’s because you have some kind of hearing loss. It’s likely that you are experiencing some moderate hearing loss which can be helped with the use of hearing aids. This is common because of the levels at which you are hearing, so when there is background noise, your ears are distracted by the sounds in the background. Speak to your audiologist about this and see what they think the best course of treatment is going to be for you.

It could be the case that you are experiencing this difficulty because you have something known as high frequency hearing loss. This is where you have trouble hearing sounds when they are over 2000hz, and often when there is background noise or when you are in a large group of people, hearing becomes quite difficult. If this is the case, then hearing aids that offer frequency lowering technology may be able to help you here. Again, speak to your audiologist about this as they will be able to help you find the correct frequency and loudness for your individual hearing loss needs. 

Learn more about Pacific Audiology Clinic by getting in touch at 503-719-4208. Our friendly team is ready and waiting to speak to you about your hearing problems.