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How Does Hearing Loss Affect Communication

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a woman with her hand on her ear

It’s a common question, both for people new to the experience of hearing loss and those who live with hearing impaired people. How does hearing loss affect communication? Does it change the development of communication in children? Do those differences continue into adulthood? How different can our experiences really be?

Well, it can be hard to answer all these questions in succinct, clear and general answers. But there are some changes we can talk about, observed in quite a few people living with hearing impairment. A lot of research has gone into a variety of age ranges of hearing-impaired experience, and communication is one of the main elements of development and lifestyle affected. 

Let’s go through a few of the main parts of living with a hearing aid or a loss of hearing. There’s quite a bit of overlap in patient experience, and it’s important to share these details with the population at large.

How does hearing loss occur?

In order to understand how hearing loss affects communication, it’s important to understand how it can occur in the first place. 

One way is known as conductive hearing loss. This occurs due to damage in the middle or outer ear. Often this can occur after experiencing a ruptured eardrum or a case of impacted earwax

Another type is known as sensorineural hearing loss. This occurs when hair cells in the inner ear are damaged, and often occurs as a natural part of aging and lifestyle. If someone likes to listen to loud music on a regular basis or works around loud noise, this is the most common type of hearing loss that can follow. 

Another extremely common type of hearing loss is known as tinnitus, which often presents in the form of ringing in the ears. 

Now that you’re aware of the most common hearing-impaired experiences, below is one of the more negative sides of living with a hearing impairment, as well as a big benefit of growing and learning with a hearing aid in place. 

A sense of isolation

This is particularly a problem when hearing loss is undiagnosed and untreated. Adults who experience their hearing impairment like this often report a sense of loneliness, and generalized anxiety when interacting with the world at large. Often, they are not aware that they’re experiencing a diagnosable problem and thus, they don’t know how to ask for accommodations from the people around them. 

Any kind of social event can be hard to cope with when experiencing hearing loss. Conversations can be a struggle, and often seem one sided. Needing to ask for something to be repeated at least two or three times can be a trigger for anxiety. Because of this, it can be hard to form a connection with new people or even with old friends you haven’t seen in a while. 

We pay more attention to body language 

Hearing loss can have a beneficial effect on the way you communicate with others – for example, both adults and children with hearing loss issues will pay more attention to body language. Things such as facial expressions and hand movements are quite important social cues in the first place, but when a hearing aid is required to be able to audibly understand another person, these cues become more reliable than ever. 

Even micro changes, such as a raised eyebrow or a set jaw, is a good way to indicate a change in the tone of the conversation. When conversing with someone who has hearing loss, body language and small cues are the best ways to help them follow a social situation, even when a hearing aid is in use and has been for a long time. 

After all, children learn from a young age about the way the world works. During the developmental stages of the first years of life, there are many different subtle behaviors to pick up on. Depending on the actions of a primary caregiver, it’s common for someone with a hearing aid to be able to lip read and follow along with a person’s words that way. It’s a very clever form of communication. 

You don’t have to wait for your hearing loss needs to be addressed. A long waiting period is often associated with being diagnosed with a hearing impairment, or even being able to see an audiologist for an initial consultation. Here at Alexandria Audiology, we can help you. Communicating effectively is perfectly possible when living with hearing loss; simply call us at 703-823-3336 to find out more.