Hearing loss is the 3rd most common comorbidity in the United States affecting approximately 48 million people or 14.3 percent of the total population. For being as common a condition as it is, many people don’t completely know how to interact with people who have hearing loss who you interact with everyday.

Hearing loss is an invisible condition, which means you may not know when someone is dealing with a hearing impairment. This is why, when people disclose that they have a hearing loss it is important to learn the best ways to make it easier for them to hear you, so that your daily conversations can go consistently understood.

Below is a list of common misconceptions that people have about hearing loss. Breaking down the stigma and confusion around hearing loss can widen people’s access to communication even with a hearing impairment.

“If I don’t respond when you speak to me, I am not trying to ignore you.”

When people do not know or forgets about someone’s hearing impairment it can be easy to mistake this as that person being rude, or trying to ignore you. This can create resentment and strain at work at home and with friends. These small misunderstandings can progress into serious negative impacts on the emotional health of people with hearing loss.

Often the rift in relationships can progress into chronic depression, anxiety over failed social interactions and even social isolation as hearing loss goes unaddressed. It's important to not take it personally if you try to communicate with someone who has compromised hearing, and you don’t get an answer! Chances are, the individual hadn’t noticed! Try addressing them using eye contact to make sure they are ready to listen.

 “Hearing loss makes me exhausted.”

Struggling to hear people all day cannot only be frustrating but exhausting as well. Hearing loss is a progressive condition meaning that it is often certain tones or frequencies that go first, making parts of speech unintelligible. Your hearing lies in your brain just as much as in your ears, so when your brain has to work harder to fill in the missing spaces in speech it can be exhausting. This makes social interactions extremely exhausting for people with hearing loss. Please be patient with people with hearing issues.

 “Hearing aids don’t work immediately like glasses.”

Hearing aids are the most common treatment for hearing loss amplifying sounds and making them louder so your brain can receive the signal.  These tiny electronic devices make it much easier to hear but it doesn’t happen overnight. The moment you put on a new pair of glasses they immediately make it easier to see. However,  with hearing aids, most people wait 7 to 10 years before they treat their hearing loss. This means that many of the sounds they are hearing again with hearing aids they haven’t heard in almost a decade or more. It takes a while for your brain to relearn how to hear these sounds again.

“There are certain things that make it easier for me to hear with hearing loss.”

Even with hearing aids, hearing isn’t exactly the same as it was before the hearing impairment. If someone you interact with daily such as a co-worker, friend or family member has a hearing loss, then modifying the way you communicate with them can make your conversations easier so they can succeed. Make sure to get the person’s attention first as this will give them time to prepare to listen. This could be a gentle tap of the shoulder or a nod of the head to make sure they are ready to hear.

People with hearing loss often rely on visual cues such as hand gestures, lip reading and body language to read between lines of intended meaning in speech. One of the most common side effects of hearing loss is having to ask people to repeat themselves. Sometimes if a person has trouble hearing you and you’ve repeated yourself, try rephrasing instead. This can add context to what you are trying to convey.

 “Be Patient”

Hearing loss is a disability but that doesn’t mean that people can’t have vibrant and engaging conversations and relationships while living with this condition. When you are patient with the people in your life with hearing loss it gives them a chance to truly succeed and prosper in conversation and in life, despite a hearing loss.

If you have experienced changes in your hearing and are interested in learning more about hearing options that can benefit you, contact us today! We provide comprehensive hearing health services and we look forward to helping you on your journey to better hearing.