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Relationships are an essential part of our lives. They bring us joy, nurturance, and happiness. Our relationships with family, friends, and partners provide meaning and are often described as the most important part of life. We spend so much of our time with other people, including in our professional lives with coworkers. Hearing loss can strain these relationships, causing your personal and professional life to suffer. Understanding hearing loss, how it can impact you (and others), and treatment can bring you closer to the people in your life and improve your overall health.
Hearing loss is the reduced ability to hear and can be experienced by anyone. It can be caused by various factors including medical conditions, family (genetic) history, and environmental exposure to loud noise. Hearing is a major way that we receive, process, and understand information. If it is impaired and left untreated, the impact(s) can be massive and challenging. To understand how relationships can suffer as a result of hearing loss, it is important to first be aware of the symptoms.
There are several symptoms of hearing loss that can be experienced to any degree. These include:
- Ringing noise in one or both ears (known as tinnitus)
- Ability to hear better in one ear over the other
- Hard time following a conversation, especially if you are in an environment with loud background noise and/or having a conversation with multiple people
- Speech and other noise may seem muffled and unclear
- Regularly asking other people to talk loudly and/or slowly
- Needing others to repeat themselves
- Unable to make out distinct words
- Increasing the volume on your devices (phone, speaker, T.V.)
These symptoms make engaging in conversations and communicating very challenging. Because communication is part of daily life, you can consistently feel overwhelmed and exhausted.
Impact on Relationships
Effective communication is key to healthy relationships. Hearing loss can really strain communication and impact how you interact with others. There are many ways relationships are impacted, including the following:
- Strained Communication: you may not completely hear words that someone has said and need others to repeat themselves or speak loudly. This can cause you to miss important information leading to miscommunication. Others may feel frustrated because you are not hearing what they are saying to you. Having conversations becomes more work than pleasure for all the people involved.
- Less Time With Others: because engaging with others can involve more labor than fulfillment, you can find yourself avoiding it. You may spend less time with your family and friends; avoid social gatherings, and staying away from noisy environments. Creating this distance between yourself and other people can lead to tension and conflict.
Withdrawing from social activities and isolating yourself can be detrimental for your mental and emotional health. This can increase stress, anxiety, and depression, which impact your daily life. Treating your hearing loss can positively change your life
Hearing loss often occurs gradually. Because it can happen slowly over time, it can be easy to overlook which is why getting tested is so important. Hearing tests are a simple and noninvasive process that measures the quietest sound you can hear in both ears. Fortunately, there are various ways that hearing impairment is effectively treated. The most common treatment is hearing aids. Hearing aids are devices that help take in, amplify, and process sound. Today, there are a variety of options that range in styles and features. Hearing aids can be highly customized to meet your specific hearing needs. They can substantially improve your hearing which can strengthen your relationships by:
- Enhancing communication: hearing aids amplify sound so that you can pick up the noises and words you have been missing. This prevents gaps in communication and allows you to understand all that is being said without the extra work of trying to hear.
- Improving how you feel: being able to hear with greater ease can alleviate the stress and anxiety previously involved with navigating social engagement. This allows you to fully participate in activities and conversations.
This can really boost your confidence and improve all of the relationships in your life!