What are today’s options when trying to solve own voice issues?
Identifying the cause of own voice issues is not always straightforward.
There are two distinct reasons for own voice issues. One is called the “occlusion effect”—an increase in loudness of the wearer’s own voice when the ear canal is blocked by a closed-fit hearing aid. The second is due to the hearing aid’s output, which can create an unnatural perception of how the wearer’s own voice sounds.
To reduce the occlusion effect, hearing care professionals can open the venting. However, an open fitting not only allows low frequency energy out, it also lets ambient sound in. This reduces hearing performance in noisy environments because external sounds mask the processed sound delivered via the hearing aid. That said, the popularity of open fittings means the occlusion effect is no longer a major cause of own voice issues.
However, the hearing aid’s output continues to pose a serious challenge. Hearing care professionals typically reduce gain in order to counter the own voice effects caused by this output. Unfortunately, this entails a sacrifice in audibility. The gain may now be appropriate for the wearer’s own voice but not for external sounds.
As you can see, current fitting practices do not provide an ideal solution for own voice issues caused by hearing aid output. Why has this proven so difficult to solve?
Watch for the next entry in our series to find out more.