Hearing loss is one of the most pervasive health conditions that people experience today. Nearly 1 in 5 people have some degree of hearing loss, impacting over 48 million people. Impaired hearing reduces one’s ability to take in and process sound which produces a wide range of effects that can take a toll on daily life. Hearing loss strains communication, a foundational way we understand and make sense of the world around us. This makes it challenging to manage personal and professional responsibilities – affecting job performance, social life, and impacting your relationships.
Hearing Loss Symptoms
There are a variety of factors that can contribute to the development of hearing loss: existing medical conditions (hypertension, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, etc.), genetic history, environmental exposure to loud noise, aging, and head or neck injuries. These factors increase the risk of hearing loss which creates numerous symptoms including the following:
- Tinnitus: a buzzing, ringing, clicking like noise in one or both ears
- Sounds are slurred or muffled, making it difficult to distinguish words
- Increasing the volume on electronic devices (smartphone, TV, laptop, etc.)
- Frequently asking others to speak loudly, slowly, or repeat themselves
- Difficulty hearing in environments with background noise and/or in conversations with multiple people
- Needing to move to a quieter setting to hear more clearly
- Better hearing in one ear over the other
These symptoms can present mildly to profoundly depending on the degree of a person’s hearing loss. Experiencing these effects can significantly disrupt daily life and make performing even the most basic tasks, more challenging. These symptoms can also impact relationships with family and friends.
Impact on Relationships
Hearing loss symptoms strain communication. Effective communication is fundamental for healthy relationships and is a major way we nourish bonds with the people in our lives. With untreated hearing loss, conversations become difficult to engage in. People often feel stress and anxiety about needing to compensate for their hearing loss. Symptoms make it hard to hear which then can lead to miscommunication, confusion, and overall difficulty following along. This can be unpleasant for everyone involved and can shorten interactions as well as lead to:
- Social Withdrawal: because conversations can feel like too much work and are difficult to navigate, people with untreated hearing loss can avoid them altogether. People may avoid social gatherings, activities, and interactions with others. This means spending less time with loved ones which can create distance and tension in relationships.
- Health Concerns: strained communication and social withdrawal can impact mental health by contributing to anxiety, loneliness, and depression. Isolation also reduces opportunities for physical engagement and stimulation, leading to overall less energy. Untreated hearing loss increases the risk of developing other conditions including depression, cognitive decline, and accidental injuries.
This impacts overall health and wellness as well as a sense of self. Relationships can really suffer as a result of avoiding spending time with others. Strained communication also makes it difficult to share quality time when you are with family and friends. People may also be unaware of your hearing loss and how to best support your hearing needs which can contribute to tension and distance.
Treating Hearing Loss
Addressing hearing loss can significantly improve your health and relationships. Identifying your hearing needs allows you to learn about effective communication strategies that maximize your hearing. Sharing this information with others invites them to provide support and participate in communication in ways that meet your hearing needs. This can strengthen relationships and create more meaningful interactions with the people in your life.
Treating hearing loss starts with a simple first step: scheduling an appointment for a hearing test. Hearing evaluations involves a noninvasive and relatively quick process that measures your hearing ability in both ears. This identifies any impairment and the degree of hearing loss you could be experiencing.
Fortunately, there are effective ways that hearing loss is managed. The most common treatment is hearing aids which are small, electronic devices that are designed to absorb, amplify, and process sound. This support can drastically improve hearing ability which enhances communication, boosts confidence, improves health, strengthens relationships – benefits of prioritizing your hearing health are abundant!
If you are ready to experience the benefits of hearing loss treatment, contact us today to schedule a consultation!