Though hearing loss is the third most common medical condition in the United States, it is not often discussed. In some cases, discussing hearing loss comes with the taboo of aging, while in other cases, people simply don’t notice because it is an invisible condition. As an invisible condition, hearing loss tends to develop gradually, sometimes over a span of many years. While hearing loss may affect people at any age, it tends to be most common among people age 65 years or older. Regardless of age, hearing loss affects 20% of the population in the US.
People with hearing loss tend to treat the condition with hearing aids. Hearing aids provide people with hearing loss access to clear sounds and improved speech recognition, among a number of other incredible features. Hearing aids bring significant benefit to people who experience hearing loss; they reconnect people to the sounds in their life.
Even with hearing aids, however, people with hearing loss find themselves in situations where communication may be difficult. In other instances, there are myths that need to be dispelled about hearing loss. Here, we’ve compiled the Internet for things people with hearing loss wish others understood about the condition.
This is a big one. It is a common misconception that people with hearing loss need sounds to be LOUDER. In fact, hearing loss makes it difficult to understand – and that includes the nuances of speech, especially against loud background noise. In some cases of hearing loss, people may pick up only bits and pieces of speech, with missing words or sounds in between. This could make it difficult to understand what’s being communicated. With this common experience with hearing loss, a rise in volume doesn’t necessarily help with comprehension.
In other words, if you’re communicating with a friend or family member who experiences hearing loss, there’s no need to shout or raise your voice! Shouting or raising your voice often doesn’t make things easier to understand. Instead, it may be easier to repeat what you’re saying, more clearly. Turning to face the person with hearing loss also helps, as they can read visual cues, or your lips if necessary.
Unfortunately, hearing loss is a permanent condition. The closest thing to restoring hearing for people with hearing loss is the prescription of hearing aids, selected and fitted to treat the specific degree and configuration of loss, which differs greatly person to person.
These days, hearing aids are incredibly advanced with many incredible features to help us pick up and process sounds in our environment. They help discriminate speech from background noise, they help locate the source of sound, and they even allow us to stream phone calls, music, and other media directly to our ears. Even so, hearing aids are not always perfect. There are times when we need to adjust our hearing aids to adapt to our current environment.
To put it bluntly, we’re still adjusting as a society and culture to people with hearing loss. There are always awkward experiences with hearing loss – from people speaking very slowly in dumbed down speech to people answering questions on our behalf. Similarly, there are instances where people get mad at us because they think we are ignoring them or not fully listening.
On the first count, people with hearing loss do not need speech dumbed down on our behalf. If we mishear something, it’s enough for you to repeat what you said – perhaps more slowly and clearly – so that we can answer for ourselves. On the second count, keep in mind that hearing loss comes in many different degrees and configurations. This means that some of us are unable to hear sounds coming from the right side or the left side, while others find it difficult to make sense of high-pitched voices. If we don’t hear you initially, don’t take it personally!
Hearing loss takes a lot out of us – and that’s scientifically proven! Studies at Johns Hopkins University have found that untreated hearing loss requires more brain power to hear, and could even overload our cognitive abilities as we attempt to make sense of sound. Even with hearing aids, we may become overwhelmed in especially loud environments.
People with hearing loss benefit from quiet time, relaxation exercises, or just a quick break from sound. If we disappear at a loud party or if we want to stand away from the noise at parties, it’s not that we don’t want to be there! It’s just that a little break goes a long way to ensuring our well-being.
Do you believe you, or someone you know, is experiencing hearing loss? There’s no reason to live with untreated hearing loss. Contact us at Puget Sound Hearing Aids and Audiology
today to schedule a hearing test.