In the United States, one in eight people aged 12 years or older has hearing loss in both ears. Yes, as a person with hearing loss it can be hard to cope with the day-to-day routine. However, what impact is your hearing loss actually having on you and your relationship with others?
According to Consumer Report, new research shows that hearing loss or other hearing problems can actually take a toll on one’s relationship with their spouse, parents, children, friends, and other family members. In extreme cases, severe hearing loss can sever a relationship altogether.
The University of Nottingham recently published the study in the journal Trends and Hearing. The study looked at more than 70 cases of people complaining about their hearing loss or complaining about the hearing loss of those close to them.
Lead study author and audiologist Venessa Vas, PhD commented on the findings.
“We found that hearing loss impacted people’s social relationships in all facets of their life,” Vas said. “Oftentimes, both parties became depressed and socially withdrawn.”
It was reported that spouses often times felt anxious or stressed regarding their partner’s hearing loss. The emotional and harmful decline of a successful relationship may not be apparent at first but will continue to get worse over time.
James Denneny, M.D., CEO of the American Academy of Otolaryngology, commented on the decline of relationships due to the loss of hearing.
“First people start showing a little bit of anxiety or depression because they find they have to watch someone’s mouth when they talk, or not watch TV when they’re having a conversation,” Denneny says. “Then, as social interactions become more and more frustrating, they stop playing golf, they stop going out to dinner, they stop playing cards with friends because they are the only one who can’t hear the jokes at the table.”
For those who experience hearing loss, whether it be with themselves or a family member, hearing aids may be an option to help rescue a failing relationship. However, this ultimately depends on the severity of the hearing loss. More and more over-the-counter hearing aids are expected to hit the market over the next few years, as a law was recently passed that requires them to be readily available.
“This will most likely make hearing aids more affordable, and more consumers will be willing to use them,” said Denneny.