Hearing loss is one of the most common, chronic health conditions that people experience today. Though it is pervasive, impacting nearly 48 million people, it is often underdiagnosed. Hearing loss is an invisible condition that typically occurs gradually so people may not notice changes to their hearing health immediately. Additionally, there are numerous misconceptions and stigma associated with hearing loss that also contributes to a delay in treatment. Untreated hearing loss often takes a toll on daily life and overall health by breaking down communication which strains relationships. Treating hearing loss is key to not only improving your hearing health but also your relationships.
Impact of Untreated Hearing Loss on Relationships
Research shows that untreated hearing loss can be a major source of stress among couples. Partners often report feeling frustrated, unheard, or ignored by their loved one with hearing loss. This happens as a result of the strain untreated hearing loss has on communication which is foundational for healthy relationships. Untreated hearing loss produces a range of symptoms that make communication difficult:
- Tinnitus: a buzzing or ringing like noise in one or both ears
- Sounds are distorted, muffled, slurred
- Needing to increase the volume on electronic devices
- Frequently asking others to speak louder, slower, or repeat something they’ve said
- Lip reading to identify individual words
- Struggling to hear in environments with background noise, during conversations with multiple people, while multitasking etc.
These symptoms can be experienced mildly to profoundly, reducing one’s capacity to fully navigate, participate, and understand conversations. Day to day communication about anything from mundane asks (can you pass the coffee?) Conversations about substantive topics become challenging. This kind of communication is a large part of relationships so experiencing the strain produced by untreated hearing loss often leads to tension, frustration, or distance.
How Treatment Improves Relationships
Treating hearing loss offers countless benefits that strengthen relationships as well as health and wellness. This includes:
- Strengthens Communication. The most common treatment for hearing loss is hearing aids. These are electronic devices that are designed to detect, amplify, and process sound. This maximizes hearing capacity, providing significant support that allows people to hear and communicate with greater ease. Hearing aids alleviate symptoms associated with hearing loss which means that people can hear much more clearly and without the stress of experiencing constant disruptions. Being able to readily share thoughts, express yourself, hear others, and respond strengthens communication. People can engage with others fully and with greater presence, having fulfilling and dynamic conversations that are more easeful. Effective communication is necessary for sustainable and healthy relationships and hearing aids make this more possible.
- Enriches Social Life. Being able to communicate without the stress of symptoms also supports people navigating social settings and activities. One major effect of untreated hearing loss is social withdrawal, people often retreat from spending time with others because of communication challenges. Treating hearing loss and maximizing hearing capacity means that people can engage in a wide range of activities more easily. This includes being in social environments and participating in group activities. An enriched social life nurtures a sense of community and is critical for wellbeing. This boosts confidence and happiness which enhances connectivity and relationships.
- Improves Overall Health. Research shows that hearing aids offer several benefits that improve overall health. This includes strengthening cognitive capacity by providing the auditory system – the ears and brain which work together to absorb, process, and understand speech and sound – with ample support. This enhances cognitive functions and in turn brain health. Additionally, hearing aids increase spatial awareness, improving safety and reducing the risk of accidental injuries which people with untreated hearing loss experience a higher risk of. Lastly, treatment improves mental health by alleviating the stress, anxiety, and social withdrawal that is commonly experienced as a result of untreated hearing loss. Feeling better and like your optimal self on a daily basis also improves relationships and the way one can show up in those relationships
Prioritize Your Hearing Health Today
Addressing your hearing loss starts with one simple step: scheduling an appointment for a hearing test. Call us today to learn more information and to get started on your hearing health journey!