How Treating Hearing Loss Improves Your Relationships

Cyndi Connolly
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Healthy communication in any relationship is based on the concept that both parties are open and honest with each other. When you can listen to the other person and consider what they are seeing you can cultivate your relationship with friends, family, co-workers and your significant other for years to come. Clear communication is the cornerstone of any healthy relationship but when hearing loss becomes an issue it becomes more difficult to communicate. Frequent misunderstandings due to progressive hearing loss can start to cause tension in what were once solid and healthy relationships driving the loved ones in your life further away. 

Speech Recognition and Hearing Loss

Hearing loss often starts slowly and progresses over time. Because of this, people with hearing loss often don’t realize they have a problem until they struggle to hear in the most ideal of listening situations. Meanwhile it is often certain tones, pitches or consonants which people with early onset hearing loss struggle with. 

This causes the loss of some sounds in conversation while others remain clear. The brain is forced to interpret speech with less sound information, filling in the gaps in words and sentences. This is not only frustrating but can be exhausting to the listener. They will ask people to repeat themselves regularly but may grow tired or embarrassed by struggling to hear. When hearing loss is subtle listeners may not realize that hearing issues cause listening fatigue. However people with untreated hearing loss are likely to suffer from depression or self isolate rather than struggle with constant speech recognition issues.

Hearing Loss Between Loved Ones

It is often small talk that builds the intimacy that relationships with significant others need to feel closeness. It’s inside jokes, small talk and relaxed conversation that is often the glue in healthy relationships. When this casual talk becomes less and less due to progressive hearing loss, relationships suffer. 

In fact, recent studies showed 44 percent of over 55-year-olds said their romantic relationship suffered because one or both individuals suffered from hearing loss. Couples where one or both partners struggle with hearing loss will often grow to resent each other as they struggle with constant miscommunication. 

However about 53 percent of couples reported a positive impact on their relationship with the use of hearing aids.  Hearing aids amplify the specific sounds in which you struggle with, making it easier to hear your loved ones. You will be able to communicate important information and carry on casual conversation again, slowly rebuilding any distance that may have occurred.

Hearing Loss Between Co-Workers

It is not only your personal relationships that are affected by hearing loss. At work clear and effective communication is more important than we may initially realize for success in the workplace. Even with the popularity of email and instant messaging, face-to-face communication is still highly valued in the workplace. 

When you miss important information at a meeting your supervisors and co-workers start to notice. Supervisors may identify this as poor work performance rather than hearing issues. It is estimated that untreated hearing loss has the potential to decrease annual income by as much as $30,000.  

In addition, people with hearing loss are more likely to be skipped over for raises and promotions. While discrimination based on a disability is illegal, when hearing loss is undiagnosed, reasonable accommodations cannot be made. However hearing aids have been found to boost people’s work performance, allowing them to secede in the workplace similarly to those with healthy hearing.

Treating Your Hearing Loss

If we can identify that we have a problem then we can take the steps to deal with our hearing loss. Hearing aids have been found to create the ability to rebuild relationships at home and at work. Know the signs of hearing loss so you can treat it before it starts to affect your valued relationships. 

If you find that you’re asking people to repeat themselves more often than not, deal with ringing in the ears, or struggle to hear over the phone, then it is a good idea to schedule an appointment for a hearing test. A hearing exam will be able to diagnose which sounds and tones you struggle with so they can be targeted and amplified by your hearing aids. Don’t put off dealing with your hearing loss another day. Invest in your hearing and enjoy the cherished relationships in your life.