What to do if you’re struggling to hear with background noise

Published 26 August 2020  | Updated 16 May 2024  | 3 mins read

Having difficulties hearing in background noise can often be a sign that you’re experiencing hearing loss. Hearing loss often develops gradually over a period of time, which means that you may not notice the changes in your hearing initially.

The reason behind hearing loss

Sensorineural hearing loss, or SNHL for short, is the most common form of hearing loss. The cause of SNHL is generally categorised as being due to one of the following contributing factors:

  • Presbycusis – age-related hearing loss and one of the most common causes. Over time the hair cells in the inner ear degrade, usually from around the age of 40. After this begins to happen the individual will experience gradual hearing loss.
  • Noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) – the hair cells in the inner ear are damaged due to exposure to loud sounds. This can cause a sudden loss of hearing due to a short burst of sound or a gradual loss of hearing due to exposure to sounds over a longer period of time.
  • Head injuries or viral infections – these can damage the vestibulocochlear nerve or the cochlea causing permanent or temporary hearing loss.

If you are noticing difficulty hearing speech clearly in noisy environments, it is possible you have a hearing loss.

Struggling to hear

There are different indications that you may be experiencing hearing loss. If you are struggling to hear in conversation you may find yourself trying to face the person who is talking to you. With difficulties understanding speech, particularly in environments with lots of ambient noise, it may help you to understand what is being said by looking at the speaker’s lips. In a social situation that may have multiple people talking and a high level of background noise, it can become very frustrating trying to focus on who is talking and trying to read the lips of different individuals. This amount of concentration required increases stress levels on the brain resulting in mental fatigue.

You may begin choosing to avoid noisy environments and social events altogether if you are experiencing trouble hearing in background noise situations. Even a family gathering around a busy dinner table can feel isolating to someone with hearing loss.

Senior lifestyle noisy dinner party

The dangers of social isolation

Difficulty hearing in background noise might cause someone to withdraw from social situations, and this self-isolation can have significant psychological consequences. The individual may begin to feel lonely and in extreme cases, this can even lead to depression.

Some of the other mental effects of hearing loss can be:

  • Stress
  • Anxiety
  • Loneliness
  • Depression
  • Fatigue
  • Reduced hearing performance

Book your FREE Full Hearing Assessment

Something as simple as regular hearing checks can help you to catch hearing loss early and potentially prevent or slow the deterioration of your hearing with the help of noise reduction hearing aids. Modern hearing aids can help you filter out the background noise to focus on what’s important to you.

It is important to get your hearing assessed regularly to ensure you are hearing to the best of your ability, and to help your audiologist to monitor any changes over time. We can help you get back to enjoying social situations regardless of background noise.

If you are worried about your own hearing, or that of someone you care about, you can call our Dedicated Patient Support team at The Hearing Care Partnership on 0800 52 00 546 to book an appointment with your audiologist. Alternatively, you can book an appointment online.