I've assumed you are referring to a cochlear implant and while cochlear implants are an amazing solution, they cannot solve all hearing problems. This is especially so when background noise is involved and when the background noise is louder than what or who you want to hear. So, yes it is a common problem, but not only for people with hearing loss – people with normal hearing also can struggle to hear in very noisy situations. I’m surprised though that you can hear the oil sizzling above other background noises. Can your fellow conversational partners also hear the oil sizzling? Do they describe it as a loud-high or low-pitched sound? How close to the kitchen are you? You may have already tried some of my recommendations, but if you haven’t, it may be worth trying the following:
• Change the microphone sensitivity on your external processor. If the sensitivity is lower, then there will be more emphasis on your processor picking up sounds/speech in close proximity to you rather than more distant noises/speech.
• Try your noise suppression or directional microphone program (sounds as if you’ve already tried this).
• Consult your audiologist who may be able to implement some programming changes to assist you in these specific situations. Perhaps decreasing the amount of high-frequency access may assist with reducing the sizzling noise (I’m assuming it’s a high-frequency noise), but may also reduce the clarity of speech in other situations.
• Visit places with good acoustics and lower ambient noise levels. When people are in a naturally noisy situation, they will speak louder to make themselves heard thereby further increasing overall noise levels. Carpeting, acoustic ceiling tiles and soft furnishings all help reduce reverberation, and background noise levels and no or very low background music also create a better listening environment. Avoid tables in thoroughfares or near entrances and kitchens. Visual cues are important too, so opt for places with good lighting and if you need glasses or contact lenses, wear them.
• People who wear hearing aids or implants in both ears usually perform better in noisy situations. So consider a hearing aid for your non-implanted ear if you have sufficient residual hearing, or if you don’t, investigate the potential for a second implant.
• Additional assistive listening devices can be used in conjunction with implants and hearing aids. FM systems can help reduce the effects of reduced hearing because of background noise, reverberation and distance. Ask your audiologist if this is a good option for you.