Learning how to adjust the volume of your voice in different situations can be tricky. Here are some tips to help you understand and manage the issue.
When your hearing aids are switched on and you speak for the first time, your own voice may sound strange to you. It may sound tinny, or hollow, or have a booming quality that you don’t recognize. If this happens, talk to your audiologist and explain how your voice sounds. They may be able to make some immediate adjustments to make your voice sound more natural.
After a settling in period, you should hopefully start to become used to the sound quality of your hearing aids. This includes hearing your own voice through the hearing devices. But, if you’re still not happy with the sound of your own voice, try and see your hearing care professional again and ask for more adjustments.
According to this article on Audiology Online, It takes an average of seven years for most adults with a gradual hearing loss to get hearing aids. When hearing has been lost gradually, it’s easy to be largely unaware of some sounds that can no longer be heard.
Hearing aids pick up and amplify a large range of sounds of which the first-time user will suddenly become aware; many they may not have heard in years. For this reason, new users may complain that ‘everything is too loud’.
Some sounds may be instantly recognizable – a knock at the door, a phone ringing – others may take to distinguish – a kettle boiling, a tap running. These sounds may sound almost unbearable at first and we may feel the need to compensate (for our perception of being in a noisy environment) by speaking more loudly. Sometimes we may be speaking unnecessarily loudly.
When I first started using hearing aids, I found the noise of the extractor on my cooker hood almost deafening. I would shout to make myself heard above the din, but to my husband, who was used to the sound and to tuning it out, I was speaking louder than was necessary.
If you have a close friend or family member who is willing to help you work on your volume control, you could give them an insight into the issues you’re facing by asking them to wear ear defenders or ear plugs whilst having a conversation with you. Video the conversation and then play it back to them. They will then be able to judge for themselves how much louder they were speaking when their hearing was temporarily impaired and they couldn’t hear their own voice normally.
Keep in mind that whether we have hearing loss or not, we all tend to increase the loudness of our voice as our perception of the background noise around us increases. The more background noise in a bar or restaurant, the more we will speak up in order to be heard. Gauging how loudly we’re speaking over what we hear as background noise can sometimes seem like a fine art. Like most things, getting it right takes practice.
What do you recommend to others as they adjust to new noise with their hearing aids? Let us know in the comments.