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How Treating Hearing Loss Helps Your Relationships


How Treating Hearing Loss Helps Your Relationships

Hearing loss, if left untreated, undermines communication in many ways that are both obvious and hidden. At first, it may be a harmless, “What did you say?” or “Could you please repeat that?” and over time, it could turn into avoidance and social withdrawal. To understand how hearing loss affects our relationships, we take a look at how hearing loss interferes with speech recognition and our cognitive abilities. In understanding these factors, it becomes clear that treating hearing loss significantly improves your most important relationships.


Hearing Loss & Speech Recognition

The earliest signs of hearing loss involve communication with others. If you consistently ask people to repeat themselves, or if you believe everyone has started mumbling, these are tell-tale signs that you may have a hearing loss.

Untreated hearing loss interferes with our ability to recognize speech. Of course, this is different person to person – no two experiences with hearing loss are alike. We actually hear with our brains, and the neural pathways that transport auditory signals from our inner ear to the auditory centers of our brains are personalized from our own experiences through the years. In this way, when we begin to struggle with hearing loss, our experiences may seem very isolating. Some people may struggle to differentiate between speech sounds such as “p” and “b”, while others may struggle to discern between “s” and “th” sounds.

As a result, it may become frustrating to have conversations with our friends, family members, and colleagues. People around us may also become impatient or frustrated at having to repeat themselves frequently. Untreated hearing loss may begin to cause tensions in relationships, with people feeling unheard or misunderstood. Because communication is an important foundation for any relationship, leaving hearing loss untreated could slowly jeopardize our social interactions.

Over time, if left untreated, people with hearing loss may begin to avoid social situations with multiple speakers. Untreated hearing loss interferes with our ability to focus on speech sounds, especially in noisy settings. You may find yourself avoiding parties or dinners at restaurants or drinks out during happy hour. It is difficult to focus on speakers’ voices especially in group conversations. As such, people with untreated hearing loss are at higher risk for developing stress and anxiety issues, as well as depression. Gradually, untreated hearing loss may lead to social isolation – which comes with a host of issues.


Hearing Loss & Cognitive Abilities

Social isolation is a major risk factor for older people developing dementia. In the US, approximately one in three people over the age of 65 experience some degree of hearing loss. Fifty percent of people over 75 experience hearing loss, while 80% of people over the age of 85 have some degree of hearing loss. Concurrently, the social isolation that comes with untreated hearing loss could contribute to a decline in cognitive abilities, which increases the risk for dementia.

Researchers at Johns Hopkins have linked untreated hearing loss with an increased risk for dementia. But even more, there is a clear link to one’s cognitive abilities. When we struggle to hear, our brains much expend more energy to make sense of muddled signals. This energy – otherwise used for other functions such as memory, concentration, balance, etc. – creates a heavier cognitive load. This heavy cognitive load has been identified as a potential risk for developing dementia. Luckily, treating hearing loss with the use of hearing aids brings significant benefits to our social lives and our cognitive abilities.


How Hearing Aids Help Improve Your Relationships

With a simple hearing test, we can identify your current hearing abilities. If you have a hearing loss, our team at Hearing Centers of Arizona will work with you to find the perfect device to meet your hearing needs.

Hearing aids are designed to amplify sound and provide us with clarity. They reconnect you to the speech and environmental sounds in your life and allow you to shift your focus. These features are significant when it comes to socializing and communicating. Studies have found that people who treat their hearing loss with hearing aids perform as well on cognitive tests as people with normal hearing.

With advanced listening features and algorithms that process audio data at incredibly fast speeds, hearing aids are mini-computers for your ears that give you almost immediate access to the speech sounds in your life. In this way, you are able to communicate clearly with your loved ones.


Have you noticed issues in your relationships due to communication? This Valentine’s Day, take the opportunity to get your hearing tested. Contact us at Hearing Centers of Arizona.


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