Difficulties with Communication Could Signal a Hearing Loss

Difficulties with Communication Could Signal a Hearing Loss

Bary E. Williams, Au.D.

Born with hearing loss, Dr. Bary struggled in his early life to be completely engaged in the world around him. He obtain his masters and eventually his doctorate in audiology while working on the front lines as a hearing aid specialist during the day. Dr. Bary has been in practice for over 30 years and has worked for several of the largest hearing aid manufacturers.
Bary E. Williams, Au.D.

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Effective communication is vital, regardless of the environment or the circumstances involved. Without it, crucial pieces of information can be misinterpreted. In some cases, they may be missed completely. For those suffering with untreated hearing loss, the struggle to communicate effectively is almost constant. Even under the best of circumstances, this can cause a number of frustrations in both personal and professional relationships. In a worst-case scenario, it can have disastrous effects.

 

Speech Recognition Challenges with Untreated Hearing Loss

When a person is struggling to hear, it becomes exponentially difficult to recognize speech correctly. Some words are easier to discern than others but communicating effectively while suffering from untreated hearing loss is extremely challenging. It typically becomes far more difficult to correctly identify certain words or phrases, especially those that sound similar to others. To make things even more complicated, those who suffer from untreated hearing loss often find themselves trying to fill in the blanks on their own. They may be too embarrassed to ask someone to repeat a statement so they do the best they can, extrapolating information from the bits and pieces of the conversation they can actually hear and understand. Of course, this practice is not one that works especially well. In fact, most people who do this eventually find that they only get about half of the information right, something that can have dire consequences when the right circumstances are present.

Those with hearing loss are more likely to struggle to hear someone who speaks softly. They are also less likely to fully understand a conversation that takes place when they are unable to look directly at the person they are talking to. For instance, they may be able to understand another person who is standing directly across from or next to them, especially when the individual in question can turn their head to look directly at the person speaking. However, allow that person to walk ahead of or behind the person with hearing loss. It becomes almost impossible to understand what is being said. The person with hearing loss may be able to tell that someone else is speaking but they are unlikely to understand exactly what is being said.

Background noise is also a problem for those who have trouble hearing well. Even a little noise can cause someone with impaired hearing to struggle over every word. In a critical situation, important information may be missed. Even in the most innocuous situation, this can prove mentally draining for everyone involved. In some cases, the person who struggles to hear may become so frustrated with things that he or she simply stops communicating all together.

 

Communication Tips for People with Hearing Loss

Here are some tips that people with hearing loss can follow to make communication easier. First and foremost, try to reduce background noise as much as possible. Choose a quieter, more intimate setting as opposed to loud, crowded areas when having an important conversation. It may also help to look directly at the person speaking, even for those who don’t read lips. It’s often easier to make the words out when you can see someone speaking. Directly facing the individual who is speaking is another way to communicate more effectively, as it helps to direct the sound in your direction. If all else fails, ask them to speak more loudly so it’s easier to hear them.

 

Tips for Communicating with People with Hearing Loss

These are some tips for people with normal hearing to talk to those with hearing loss. It can be easy to forget that someone else may have trouble hearing. For starters, speak directly to the person in question. Make eye contact when speaking and avoid turning your head away from the person you’re speaking to. Last but not least, enunciate your words clearly and make sure you’re speaking at a sufficient volume.

 

Schedule a Hearing Test

Thanks to the advanced technology available today, it simply doesn’t make sense to go on living with hearing loss. If you’re struggling to hear or worse yet, you’ve already isolated yourself from others so you won’t have to deal with it all, it’s time to schedule a hearing test right away. You may be able to get medical treatment that can make it easier to hear better and communicate more effectively.

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