Contributed by Debbie Clason, staff writer, Healthy Hearing
Hearing loss is one of the most common conditions affecting Americans. Though most adults wait an average of 5-7 years before seeking help for their hearing loss, there are compelling reasons you shouldn’t. Besides communication challenges, untreated hearing loss has emotional effects that can rob you of life’s happiest moments.
How hearing loss affects your emotions
The psychological effects of untreated hearing loss for both children and adults can include increased outbursts of anger, low self-confidence, frustration, embarrassment and depression. Adults may experience periods of sadness and grieving as their ability to hear diminishes. They also may feel more fatigued, as the struggle to hear and understand can be physically exhausting.
When left untreated, hearing loss can affect:
- Communication – Adults with hearing loss have difficulty participating fully in conversations at work, home and in social situations. Children with hearing loss, especially those younger than six months, have difficulty learning important language skills that normal hearing children learn by listening to language spoken by family members.
- Social interaction – Hearing loss progresses slowly and, over time, people who have it tend to begin withdrawing from social situations that prove too challenging. This could mean avoiding the happy hour after work with colleagues, cutting your family dinner short or skipping out on your weekly bridge game. All of these things together can lead to isolation and loneliness.
- Income – According to a study by the Better Hearing Institute, untreated hearing loss affects productivity, performance and career success, resulting in as much as a $30,000 loss in annual income. When hardworking professionals feel the lack of confidence that can come from not being able to contribute during meetings, hear clearly the important instructions from the boss or understand all that was said on a phone conference, it can lead to feelings of insecurity. These feelings can prevent you from realizing your true potential on the job.
- Family relationships – Children with hearing loss may have trouble articulating their feelings, which makes communication frustrating for family members. Adults may feel they aren’t being heard and become isolated and depressed. Family members who have loved ones with untreated hearing loss say they sometimes experience feelings of frustration, annoyance and sadness. All of these put a strain on family and romantic relationships.
How to stop the emotional effects of hearing loss
Hearing loss is a well-understood medical condition for which solutions have existed for years. Treating your hearing loss begins with a comprehensive test to determine how severe the loss is and what type. Unless you have the type of hearing loss that can be treated medically, hearing aids are often the best solution.
Putting an end to these devastating effects of hearing loss is as easy as asking for help.
Fortunately, most of the emotional effects of hearing loss begin to quickly resolve once the hearing impairment is treated effectively. Children whose hearing impairment is detected and treated early can develop speech and language skills at the same level as their normal hearing peers, which positively affects self-esteem, social interaction with peers and academic success. Adults can quickly get reacquainted with family they’ve missed connecting with, begin interacting with colleagues again and go back to hobbies that may have been put aside.
The sooner you confront the reality of hearing loss and take action, the better you’ll be able to minimize these emotional effects and get back to a high quality of life. To get started, find a local hearing healthcare professional in our directory and call for an appointment.