Hearing loss isn’t really affecting my life...Or, is it?

While you may think that your hearing loss isn’t really affecting your life, it could actually be affecting the relationships in your life and affecting those around you — possibly more than you realize.

“The thing about hearing loss,” Shannon Basham, Au.D., Phonak Director of Clinical Training explained, “is that it is, no pun intended, a silent epidemic. Most individuals who experience it don’t notice it themselves, but other people do.”

They don’t realize they’re not hearing certain sounds or pitches. Basham added, “It becomes a stressor on the family and on those who they are communicating with on a daily basis.”

Family notices first

Phonak Marvel™ hearing aid user Paul Bowling admitted that his wife and daughter first pressured him to get his hearing checked, though he had already noticed it affecting him in his career.

“Actually, my wife and I found it rather humorous,” he said. “She would be doing dishes or something else in the kitchen, she would make a comment or ask a question, and what she asked and what I heard were two different things. I would repeat what I thought she said, and it wasn't even close.”

While the Bowling family was able to find humor in the situation, that’s not always the case. “It’s a common cause of familial frustration,” Basham said. “The person with hearing impairment often thinks that his/her family is intentionally mumbling.”

Rather than being intentional mumbling, the person with hearing loss is struggling because they can often hear that someone is speaking, but they can’t understand what’s being said.

Withdrawal from sound-filled environments

Previous to getting his hearing aids, Bowling experienced some all-too-common situations. “I'd find myself becoming isolated,” he said. “The family gatherings … everyone would be in the kitchen or the family room, and I would find myself wandering off to the formal living room where it was quiet.”

Now that he is wearing hearing aids, Bowling doesn’t wander off anymore. “And that's a very exciting thing,” he said.

Basham shared that many patients with hearing loss have withdrawn from social situations. Among the feelings she hears expressed are frustrations that are all too typical:

  • “I’m going to avoid going to the restaurant because conversation is pointless, and all I’ll do is smile and nod.”
  • “I’ll come home exhausted because it takes every ounce of my effort to carry on the conversation and keep up.”

Bowling remembered experiences like that: “My wife always says, ‘I know when you don't understand because you just sit back and smile and nod your head.’ And that doesn't happen anymore. That doesn't happen. And that's a good feeling.”

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