Communication is the foundation of our daily lives. As technology continues to evolve, we seem to be interacting even more on social media platforms, with podcasts, streaming services etc. We may own multiple devices, video chat frequently, and binge watch our favorite T.V. show. The ability to hear and understand is critical to participating fully in these activities and in your relationships. Hearing loss, which is the reduced ability to hear, significantly effects your communication and the ways you engage with other people.
Impaired hearing can cause you to experience stress, anxiety, and fatigue as you are using more energy to hear. This can result in less social interaction, isolation, and general unhappiness because engaging with others is tasking. Additionally, this can strain your relationships both personally and professionally. Fortunately, there effective ways to treat hearing loss that can provide you with ease, improving your relationships and health!
How does hearing work?
Hearing is a complex process that requires the full use of the ears. Sensitive organs, the ear consists of the outer, middle, and inner ear. These parts work together to:
- Collect sound from the environment (outer ear)
- Absorb and amplify that sound (middle ear)
- Translate the sound waves to electrical impulses (inner ear)
Once translated to electrical impulses, these signals travel to the brain through the auditory nerve. The brain is then able to interpret and assign meaning to the sound. This is what enables us to understand what we are hearing which then allows us to respond effectively.
Hearing loss can result from many factors that damage part(s) of this process. If the ear cannot fully absorb or amplify the sound (meaning you cannot completely hear), it is difficult to translate the sound for your brain to understand. So gaps in what you hear can result in gaps in what you understand which would make communicating difficult.
How is hearing loss treated?
The first step in treating hearing loss is to receive an assessment. Testing your hearing does a few things: detects any impairment in addition to evaluating the degree and type of hearing loss. Hearing tests are relatively quick and non-invasive. A hearing healthcare professional will provide you with headphones connected to a small machine that will play speech and sounds projected at different volumes and pitches. This will measure the softest sound you are able to hear and establish your hearing threshold. The hearing healthcare professional will review your results and discuss treatment options.
Hearing loss is most commonly treated by hearing aids. With the increased research and technological advances, hearing aids are wide-ranging, comfortable, and a very useful way to assist with hearing. These small electronic devices can be customized to meet your specific hearing needs. Generally, hearing aids help absorb sound from your environment, amplify the noise, and process the sound waves. This allows your brain to understand and make meaning of the sound.
How are relationships improved?
Hearing loss is often exhausting because you have to expend more energy attempting to hear. This can cause you to engage less, isolate yourself, and avoid social environments to prevent fatigue and stress. Resulting in spending less time with people and/or having interactions where both parties are frustrated because communication is difficult. Treating hearing loss can change these circumstances, improving your relationships. There are several ways relationships are improved, including:
- Put simply, when you hear better, you feel better! Increased ability to hear and communicate improves your ability to perform tasks and engage in activities daily. This allows you to be fully present at work, in conversations, listening to podcasts etc., as you are not struggling to hear.
- Greater independence: you no longer have to rely on others to speak louder, slower, repeat what they have just said etc.
- Communicate easier: being able to hear clearly means you can also respond effectively. You are not distracted during conversations trying to make out words and sentences or thinking about how you will respond to something you did not completely hear. Also, not missing parts of conversations can prevent miscommunication. This allows you to engage more freely.
Having healthy relationships is critical to your emotional and mental health. Treating hearing loss can improve your relationships and your overall well being!