How Treating Hearing Loss Improves Your Relationships

How Treating Hearing Loss Improves Your Relationships

Bonnie L. Baehr, Au.D.

Perhaps you are starting to notice the need to ask people to repeat themselves more than before. Perhaps you are finding your self-struggling more to hear people speaking in crowded rooms. This might not seem like a big deal at first but as this goes on it can progress into a big problem. Undiagnosed hearing doesn’t just affect you but you friends, community family and most intimate relationships.

Hearing Loss by the Numbers

Perhaps you are embarrassed to admit that you have a problem but it is important to remember that you are not alone in this. More than 48 million people in the United States have hearing loss, according to statistics from the Hearing Loss Association of America. Hearing aids are the most common treatment. Though your ears cannot be fully restored to the level of hearing previous to hearing loss, they can help most people navigate the world again much like they used to. Unfortunately only one in four people who need hearing aids actually wear them. This is alarming as communication is essential to the success of interpersonal relationships as well as most social and professional interactions. If 75% of those with hearing loss are putting their relationships at risk then it is important to not include yourself in this statistic. The first thing to do once you suspect you have a hearing loss is to schedule an appointment with a hearing healthcare provider for a hearing test. It is a good idea to have your hearing checked annually no matter what your age to catch a hearing loss before it starts to impact your relationships.

The importance of Communication in Partnerships

A 2009 study out of Brittan found that of 1,500 people with hearing loss, 43% said their relationships with partners, friends and family struggled. 34% of the study reported the breakdown in communication with their significant others were so intense that it caused un-repairable rifts including divorce.  It’s amazing to realize it is the small daily interactions that actually hold your relationships together. The small talk, the inside jokes, and long discussions build intimacy that makes our relationships engaging and builds closeness. When people are living with untreated hearing loss, these small exchanges often begin to happen less often and resentment often grows in its place. A partner suffering from hearing loss may stop communicating because they can’t hear an answer, and the other person begins to feel frustrated and alone. Often when one or both people in a relationship have untreated hearing loss resentment, frustration, loneliness and a loss of feeling of companionship grow in place of intimacy. Not only that but a reduction in social activities, decrease in intimate exchanges, decrease in shared activities and a general reduction in communication due to reduced words used in talking can impact your intimate relationships.

Speech Recognition and Hearing Loss

The hardest part is realizing that you have a hearing loss at all as it can develop slowly over a lifetime until your relationships start to feel the brunt.  Often it is consonants and certain pitches that are the first to go.  The problem is that you are trying to hear with limited information, causing your brain to work overtime to fill in the missing pieces. When your brain works this hard just to communicate in ways that used to feel easy this can cause extreme fatigue. People often choose to avoid communicating at all rather than struggle to hear. This can lead to social isolation, high anxiety levels in social situations and depression.  Don’t let your hearing loss get to this point.  Schedule a hearing test as soon as possible.

Don’t just let hearing loss go untreated

There is no reason not to live life to the fullest by avoiding treatment for hearing loss. Hearing aids are more advanced than ever before, making hearing and communication a breeze again. Once you start wearing your hearing aids on a regular basis your relationships can begin to heal and your social life can begin to flourish as they did before. People often report a renewed lust for life once they take the leap and start wearing hearing aids. The benefits are just too wonderful to ignore!