Though hearing loss is one of the most common medical conditions that people experience today, its multifaceted impact is often overlooked. Untreated hearing loss reduces a person’s capacity to detect and process sound, making it challenging to hear. This strains communication — a key way we navigate daily life and make sense of our surroundings. Not only does this impact spatial awareness, ability to easily complete tasks, and manage professional responsibilities; but it can also take a toll on relationships with family and friends. Treating hearing loss offers countless benefits that enhance the quality of life including improving relationships!
Hearing Loss Symptoms & Impact
Untreated hearing loss produces a range of symptoms that affect all facets of life by reducing one’s ability to hear and communicate with ease. Common symptoms include the following:
- Tinnitus: a buzzing or ringing like noise in one or both ears
- Sounds are muffled or slurred, making it difficult to distinguish words
- Frequently asking others to speak loudly, slower, and/or repeat themselves
- Increasing the volume on electronic devices (phone, TV, speaker etc.)
- Difficulty hearing in environments with background noise
- Reading lips during conversations, pretending to hear
These symptoms can be experienced mildly to profoundly, creating barriers for effective communication. People commonly report feeling ignored or unheard by their loved one with hearing loss which can significantly impact relationships. However, is it more likely that the person with untreated hearing loss is experiencing various symptoms that cause them to struggle to hear and process what is being said. This can be perceived as being uninterested or even rude and this misunderstanding can strain relationships.
In addition to strained communication, another common effect of untreated hearing loss is social withdrawal. Because conversations become cumbersome to engage in, people with untreated hearing loss can often avoid social interactions altogether. This involves skipping out on events, gatherings, and not participating in social activities. Social withdrawal results in people spending less time with family and friends. This can contribute to distance and tension in relationships, creating greater isolation.
How Treatment Improves Relationships
Treating hearing loss transforms hearing and overall health. Fortunately, there are effective ways that hearing loss is treated which alleviate symptoms and strengthen hearing. The most common treatment is hearing aids: electronic devices that absorb, amplify, and process sound. This provides the ears and brain with substantial support that better allows sound to be heard and understood. Major benefits include:
- Enhances communication: with hearing aids, people are better able to perceive and process speech and sound. This includes greater capacity to identify where sound is coming from (sound localization), experience greater sound quality, and greater ability to readily understand what is being communicated without having to overextend oneself. This allows people to participate in conversations with more presence, ease, and comfort which facilitates effective communication.
- Enriches social life: being able to hear and communicate more effectively supports social engagement. People are able to fully participate in activities, social interactions, and move through social settings with greater capacity. This enriches social life and cultivates community with others.
- Improves health: treating hearing loss also reduces health risks including developing depression, cognitive decline, as well as experiencing accidental injuries.
These benefits restore confidence, a sense of independence, and wellness. This improves relationships by allowing people to easily communicate their thoughts, hear others, and respond more readily. This cultivates intimacy, closeness, and helps people spend quality time together.
Treating Hearing Loss
Treating hearing loss starts with one simple step: scheduling an appointment for a hearing test with a hearing healthcare specialist (likely an audiologist). Hearing tests involve a noninvasive and relatively quick process that identifies any impairment which includes determining the type of hearing loss and degree of impairment in each ear. This establishes your hearing needs and allows a hearing healthcare expert to provide treatment options that effectively meet those needs.
People experience hearing loss differently so treatment is tailored to individual needs. Your hearing healthcare provider will thoroughly discuss your lifestyle needs, preferences, technologies you are interested in and use this information to make hearing aid recommendations that can best maximize your hearing as well as integrate into your daily life.
Treating hearing loss offers life-changing benefits that enrich your health and relationships! Contact us today to schedule an appointment.