Identifying the cause of own voice issues is not always straightforward.
There are two distinct reasons for own voice issues. One of them 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 reason for own voice issues is caused by the hearing aid’s output which can create an unnatural own voice perception.
To reduce the occlusion effect, hearing care professionals can open the venting. However, an open fitting not only allows low frequency energy out but also allows ambient sound in. This reduces hearing performance in noisy environments because external sounds mask the processed sound delivered via the hearing aid. With the popularity of open fittings, own voice issues caused by the occlusion effect are no longer a major cause of own voice issues.
However, the hearing aid’s output continues to be a major cause of own voice issues. To reduce the effects of own voice issues caused by hearing aid output, gain is typically reduced. Yet this sacrifices audibility. The gain may be appropriate for external sounds but not for the wearer’s voice.
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 out for the next blog in our series to find out more.