No one wants to have a hearing loss, it is often easier to go into denial when the first symptoms begin to appear than face up to reality. It can take some people up to 7 years to seek help for a hearing loss! Unfortunately, along with that long wait for help comes a myriad of missed experiences, social withdrawal, depression, and affected relationships. If left untreated, a hearing loss that could have otherwise been prevented or slowed may even become permanent.
A break down in communication is one of the biggest symptoms of an undiagnosed hearing loss. Misunderstandings and arguments, due to an inability to hear (or listen), can lead to frustrations and resentments on both sides. Pride or the inability to reach out for help, denial, and depression can drive a wedge between family members, colleagues, and friends.
Having relationships is essential for human growth, to stave off loneliness and for our mental health. It is so important to make sure that we look after our friendships and relationships with our families for that continued emotional support.
When diagnosed with a hearing loss, many find it worthwhile to seek counseling from a family/couple’s therapist to learn essential communication tools to keep those relationships thriving. There are also many resources available that have great tips for communicating with someone with a hearing loss like this one from UCSF, read here.
Safety and Environmental Awareness
Sound is a key factor in survival as we navigate our surroundings. We know when a car is coming down the street because we can hear it, we know that a baby is hungry because we hear it cry. Even things like fire alarms and house alarms use sound to alert us of danger. When you experience hearing loss, these kinds of alerts and signals can be ineffective – luckily the technology does exist to equip our own homes with vibrating alarms and flashing lights to warn us of danger, but unfortunately, it is not something that many businesses or buildings have as standard.
Education and Employment
Education and the professional workplace essentially boil down to communication. Some universities are now delivering visual lectures with live subtitles which is a fantastic innovation. Apps like Live Caption and Earfy are also making a huge difference in communication through live subtitling, but many professions fall short when it comes to making it easier to hear or understand what is said which can lead to dangerous accidents or miscommunications.
Some employers are not very understanding and may make life more stressful. Losing out on work could also be a source of stress and anxiety as one struggles to make ends meet, but the law is in your corner; The Americans with Disabilities Act of 2008, is a federal law that prohibits discrimination against qualified individuals with disabilities.
There are many potential physical side-effects of a hearing loss. Anxiety can lead to palpitations and panic attacks. Depression can lead to decreased physical activity which can affect your physical wellbeing. But a hearing loss is often not an isolated condition and often stems from underlying health issues like increased blood pressure, diabetes, heart problems, thyroid conditions, and more.
A hearing loss can also be associated with dizziness and increased falls, which can be life-threatening especially to older adults. It is essential that you have a full health check to rule out any underlying conditions that could potentially be more threatening to your health.
The psychological effects of a hearing loss on adults will differ depending on the timing of the onset of their symptoms. When a person who experiences early-onset hearing loss (in childhood) matures to an adult, they bring already-established coping mechanisms into their adult life. If, as children, they learned to deal with the communication roadblocks in healthy ways, they will likely bring that healthy behavior into adulthood.
Adults who experience late-onset hearing loss will typically go through a mourning period. Depression, anger, and isolation are all readily observed by clinicians. But, more often than not, the day will come where acceptance happens, and with it, the promise of a better future with well-managed hearing care. At Sound Audiology, our methodical approach to healthy hearing allows our patients to use hearing technology to continue to be themselves and bring their unique differences to the world.
Whether you’re concerned about your hearing or the hearing of a loved one, your first step is to schedule an initial assessment to check just how much your lifestyle has impacted your hearing. Please call us at (509) 572-2444 or click here to arrange a Sound Hearing Cloud Appointment for your convenience.