How Hearing Loss Affects Communication

It’s May, which means it’s officially Better Hearing and Speech Month. The theme for 2019 is ‘Communication Across The Lifespan’, so we’re focusing on how hearing loss affects communication.

If you suffer from a hearing loss it could lead you to isolate yourself socially as communication becomes more challenging. But communication is essential for our general well-being.

More than just Words

Communication is more than just hearing the words someone speaks. Did you know that according to Mehrabian's theory, a mere 7% of communication is about the words used? A huge 55% of communication is the non-verbal cues such as eye contact, body language, hand and facial gestures. These help us understand what is being said. With that in mind, make communication easier by ensuring you can see the person’s face, mouth and hands!

How Does Hearing Loss Affect Communication

There are a few ways in which a hearing loss can negatively impact communication. Initially a person may not realise that they have a hearing loss, and therefore may unconsciously prefer to withdrawal from social or noisy situations. They may also start to avoid group conversations or get frustrated or anxious prior to gatherings.

Here are some ways to notice that a hearing loss could be impacting someone:

Sound sensitivity can start to reduce, meaning that a sound needs to be louder than normal before it can be heard. Typically when this happens, the volume on the television, phone ringer or music player will be set to a high volume. This can gradually become more apparent. Unfortunately, this is sometimes only noticed once its fairly severe.

Missing higher frequency sounds, can make understanding speech much more difficult. The sounds we form to speak resonate at different frequencies. The consonants s, t, f, p ,k and the sounds  ‘th’ and ‘sh’ are at a higher frequency and usually are the first to get missed in conversation. It makes a conversation feel like a puzzle and guessing or asking to repeat will start to take place. It can also mean that a person with a deeper voice may be easier to understand than a child or a person with a higher voice.

Background noise is a no go. Many people with a hearing loss struggle to communicate in noisy environments. This is because they cannot discriminate between background noise and speech, it all becomes an aural blur. They will prefer to talk 1-to-1 or in private/quiet settings. They may avoid meetings, bars, busy restaurants, sporting events etc. It can become very tiring and frustrating trying to concentrate and filter out background noise, so they may also become impatient.  

Symptoms like these can go untreated for years. If you recognize any of these symptoms, take our hearing loss questionnaire today.

If you are concerned about your own or somebody else’s hearing, why not both come along for a consultation? At HearingLife (formerly Family Audiology), we are committed to improving your quality of life through better hearing. Contact us at 607-323-4061 or click here to book a consultation..

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