Effective communication is all about the accurate exchange of information, so it's unsurprising that hearing loss can significantly impact the ways that you communicate with others. Most of us interact with others in various capacities every day—ranging from the personal to the professional. Adopting new communication strategies in relation to your hearing loss could be a necessary and helpful step in maintaining successful communication and thriving relationships.
How Hearing Loss Impacts Communication
Hearing loss is an invisible condition and it can progress slowly, depending on the type of hearing loss that you have. In the beginning, you may miss only a few words in conversation. However, as your condition worsens, it can feel as though others are constantly mumbling.
This can result in you asking people to repeat themselves or to speak loudly. With time, this may cause frustration to both parties, and eventually lessen the length and quality of conversations, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Since hearing loss affects your communication style, it may be difficult to interact in both personal and professional environments, which can cause issues for you at both home and work.
“By straining communication from both sides, hearing loss can create tension in personal and professional relationships. Research has shown that people with hearing loss have higher rates of marital tension, and even have lower incomes than people without hearing loss,” Kevin Seitz-Paquette, AuD, Director of the Phonak Audiology Research Center (PARC) at SonovaGroup, tells WebMD Connect to Care.
“Hearing loss is also strongly associated with social isolation, as individuals with hearing loss may tend to avoid social gatherings at all due to the effort required for them to communicate,” Seitz-Paquette says.
Strategies That Can Help
Avoiding conversations and social gatherings is not the solution to hearing loss. Doing so could result in even more feelings of social isolation and loneliness. Adopting new strategies to improve your communication skills instead of self-isolating could help you gain confidence and improve your relationships.
The following are communication strategies for adults with hearing loss:
- Inform others about your hearing loss.In order for people to help and support you, it can be beneficial to let others know that you have hearing loss. Doing this could prevent others from misunderstanding or ignoring you.
- Politely give instructions. Many people think that shouting helps the person with hearing loss, but this is not always the case. Depending on your type of hearing loss, you may want to ask people to speak slowly and avoid shouting. Also, the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association reccommends asking others not to cover their face or look away, so that you can see their lip movements and expressions.
- Choose a quieter place. You may have more difficulty understanding speech clearly when there is background noise. “Anything you can do to minimize background noises and distractions when having a conversation will make it easier to focus on the speech,” Sarah Lundstrom, AuD, an audiologist at HearCare Audiology Center, tells WebMD Connect to Care.
- Use speech-to-text devices. “If other strategies have failed, speech-to-text applications can be used to convert the spoken word to the written word. This allows the individual with hearing loss to read a message they are unable to hear,” Nicole Aaronson, MD, pediatric otolaryngologist at Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children in Wilmington, tells WebMD Connect to Care.
Hearing Loss Can Be Managed and Treated.
The earlier you address the symptoms of hearing loss, the more likely you are to avoid irreversible damage. Get the answers you need to start treatment today.