Effective communication is the foundation for healthy relationships as well as navigating personal and professional responsibilities. Hearing loss, an increasingly common medical condition, can significantly strain communication which impacts all aspects of a person’s life. Impaired hearing is the third most common chronic health issue that adults experience.
According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, nearly 1 in 8 people (above the age of 12) has some degree of hearing loss in one or both ears. Additionally, an estimated 29 million people could benefit from using hearing aids. Impairment to hearing often occurs gradually so it can go unnoticed and untreated for quite some time.
Being aware of the symptoms and the many ways in which hearing loss impacts you may help you take the necessary step to address your hearing health. Treatment can improve your relationships and overall quality of life!
Understanding Hearing Loss
Hearing loss is a medical condition that can develop as a result of existing medical conditions, environmental exposure to loud noise, and genetic history. It exists on a spectrum from mild to severe and though it is incurable, it can be effectively managed through treatment. Impaired hearing restricts a person’s ability to absorb and process sound causing a range of symptoms including:
- Tinnitus which refers to a ringing, buzzing, clicking, or humming like sound in one or both ears
- Sounds seeming muffled making it difficult to follow conversations
- Difficulty distinguishing words
- Consistently increasing the volume on electronic devices such as your tv, phone, laptop etc.
- Frequently asking others to speak loudly, slowly, and/or repeat themselves
- Challenging time engaging in conversations especially in environments with louder background noise
- Needing to move to a quieter area to hear better
- Being able to hear more clearly in one ear over the other
In addition to being frustrating, these symptoms can worsen if you do not acknowledge the reality of hearing loss and how it is impacting you. This can impact your daily life and overall health in numerous ways.
Impact of Hearing Loss
This range of symptoms can take a significant toll on your physical, mental, and emotional health. Being able to move through your day easily and uninterrupted becomes difficult and stressful. A few major ways that hearing loss impacts people include:
- Straining communication: the symptoms of hearing loss make it difficult to fully participate in conversations. People may struggle to hear words, parts of a sentence, mishear information etc. This can lead to people trying to read mouths to identify specific words, asking to move elsewhere to continue the conversation, or simply accept not hearing everything. Others may feel like you are not completely present during the conversation and seem distracted. This experience can be frustrating for everyone involved.
- Leading to social withdrawal: because conversations while dealing with untreated hearing loss can become unpleasant and require extensive work, people often decide to avoid engaging with others as much as they can. Resulting in spending less time with family and friends, not attending events and social gathers, skipping out on participating in activities etc.
- Affecting overall health: in addition to the adverse impact that strained communication and social withdrawal have on one’s mental health (contributing to depression, anxiety, loneliness etc.); hearing loss increases one’s risk of developing other medical conditions including cognitive decline as well as experiencing accidental injuries.
Strained communication and social withdrawal profoundly affects relationships by creating distance and possible tension in those relationships. Missing out on quality time, struggling through the time that you do share with others, and generally not feeling like yourself can absolutely strain relationships. The best way to intervene and change this reality is by addressing hearing loss.
Benefits of Treatment
Seeking treatment begins by scheduling an appointment with a hearing healthcare specialist to have your hearing assessed. Hearing tests involve a noninvasive process that determines your hearing ability in both ears, diagnoses any impairment, the degree and specific type that you may be experiencing.
Hearing loss is most commonly treated by hearing aids which are electronic devices designed to absorb, amplify, and process sound. This increases one’s ability to hear which can drastically improve your quality of life by strengthening communication, boosting sense of confidence and wellness, and protecting your hearing health! Contact us today to schedule a consultation.