Hearing loss can be an exhausting experience. If you think about how much you rely on the ability to hear throughout your day, it becomes clear that hearing is critical to how you navigate your professional and personal life. Impaired hearing impacts how much and what you can hear and process. The reduced ability to hear restricts the information you are able to process which can really strain communication. Communication is central to how we live our lives so when it is strained, it can become difficult to perform daily tasks, engage with others, and impact your relationships.
Symptoms of Hearing Loss
Hearing loss can be caused by existing medical conditions, genetic history, and environmental exposure to loud noise. Impaired hearing limits the sound a person is able to absorb, hear, and process which can cause them to experience:
- Difficulty following conversations and hearing distinct words
- Tinnitus which is a ringing or buzzing noise in one or both ears
- Preferring one ear over the other
- Frequently needing others to repeat themselves or speak loudly and/or slowly
- Needing to move to quiet areas to have conversations
- Increasing the volume on electronic devices (TV, phone, headphones etc.)
- Sounds are muffled and unclear
The constant experience of all of these symptoms can significantly impact all aspects of a person’s life in significant ways.
Impact on Relationships
The cumulative toll that hearing loss can take on a person’s mental and emotional health can have major effects including creating tension and distance in relationships. This can happen by:
- Straining Communication: engaging in conversation can be really challenging. As previously described, someone with hearing loss may need others to repeat words, speak loudly/slowly, move to a quiet setting etc. In trying to hear, they may also read mouths to help identify words. This extra energy to have a conversation can frustrate everyone involved. It can feel like more work than pleasure and with increased chances of miscommunication, it can just be unpleasant.
- Creating Distance: the work and energy it takes can cause serious fatigue and anxiety which can lead to avoiding interacting with others. People may skip out on events, and social settings because having conversations can be exhausting and stressful. Social withdrawal can mean not seeing family and friends for long periods of time and missing important gatherings. This distance can create tension in relationships and could lead to deteriorating connections with others.
- Declining Overall Health: difficulty having conversations, fatigue, social withdrawal, and strained relationships can negatively impact one’s mental and emotional health. It can contribute to anxiety, depression, and loneliness which can also reduce physical activity and impact general well-being.
Untreated hearing loss can deepen the tension in relationships and worsen the impairment which is why it is essential to address it as soon as possible.
Benefits of Treatment
It is critical to have hearing assessed by a hearing healthcare specialist. Hearing exams determine the degree of impairment, specific type, and treatment options. Fortunately, there are useful ways to treat hearing loss. The most common treatment is hearing aids which are electronic devices that absorb, amplify, and process sound. There is a wide-range of options available that include various features, styles, and technology that can significantly increase a person’s ability to hear. This can drastically improve one’s quality of life by:
- Enhancing communication: modern hearing aids can be customized to meet one’s specific hearing needs, allowing a person to take in and hear more sound as well as be able to process what they are hearing. All of the extra work it took to have conversations (needing others to repeat information, reading mouths, moving to quiet spaces) is alleviated. With greater ability to hear, communication and having conversations becomes easier.
- Restoring confidence: with this reduced stress, anxiety, and energy it took to engage with others; people can move through environments with greater ease. This allows people to fully participate in activities and be present which can boost confidence and sense of independence.
- Improving relationships: being able to hear, communicate, and participate with more ease can restore relationships. Having quality conversation, time together, and doing activities easily enhances connection and overall happiness!