Living with Hearing loss

Reading time: 5 min

Hearing loss gives rise to communication problems that can have a significant impact on everyday life and generate a feeling of loneliness, isolation and frustration, especially in elderly patients.

The most typical psychological complications are embarrassment, guilt and anger; pity; concentration problems; concern and frustration; anxiety and suspicion; insecurity and self-criticism and low self-esteem or low self-confidence.

The most frequent social complications are isolation and withdrawal; reduced attention; distraction/lack of concentration; problems at work; difficulty participating in one’s social life; communication problems; loss of intimacy and sexual problems.

Regarding physical consequences that the hearing loss can provocate are tiredness; headache; dizziness; muscle tension; stress; eating and/or sleep problems; stomach problems and increase blood pressure.

How to live with Hearing loss

Many ambient factors can affect how a person with hearing loss hears and understands what other people are saying. These include:

Habitación, sofá, lámpara

The type of room or space and how it is arranged.

Dos personas hablando separadas por una flecha

The distance between themselves and the person speaking. Sound loses strength over distance, so patients always hear better when they are closer to the speaker.

Aire acondicionado, sonido

The presence of distracting background noises, such as heaters or air conditioning, traffic noise or a television.

Persona hablando a pared y sonido rebota

Uncarpeted floors and other hard surfaces that cause sounds to bounce and produce echoes. It is much easier to hear in carpeted rooms with upholstered furniture.

You should also remember to:

Iluminación, luz para ver mejor la cara

Ensure there is enough lighting to see facial expressions and other nonverbal signals.

Persona sentada silla o sofá con lámpara, iluminación detrás espalda

Place the seat so the back faces a light source at the level of the eyes.

Persona sentada en silla o sofá escuchando del oído que escucha mejor

If the patient has better hearing in one ear, place the seat so the speaker is on the stronger side.

To follow conversations more easily:

Persona hablando más alto

Tell the person you are talking to about your hearing problem.

Dos personas y una no oye

Stay alert and pay attention to what the other person is saying.

Dos personas hablando de frente o cara a cara

Ask the speaker to talk to you face-on, clearly and slowly, and articulate well. Ask them to pronounce consonants clearly and avoid shouting as it is unnecessary and can give off the impression they are angry. It is not a question of speaking louder, just more clearly.

Persona pide que se repita la conversación

Listen to the flow of the conversation for a while in case there are things that you do not catch at the beginning. Some words or phrases often reappear in most conversations. If you lose the thread, pause the conversation and ask them to repeat.

Boca vocalizando; Leer los labios; Lectura labial

Lip reading can help you integrate better.

Lectura del habla: observar cara, posturas y gestos

Use the so-called speech reading technique to help you understand the conversation. This method consists of observing a person’s face, posture, gestures and tone of voice to gain a better understanding of what they are saying. It is different from lip reading. The room must be well-lit when using this technique, so you can see the other person’s face.

libreta para anotar palabras o frases que no se entienden

Make a mental note of key words or phrases if you do not understand the conversation.

Healthy habits

No alcohol

Alcohol. Several studies have shown that long-term, excessive alcohol consumption can damage the brain’s central auditory cortex and produce brain shrinkage. As the brain deteriorates over time, the auditory nerves are also affected. Therefore, even moderate drinkers run the risk of nerve damage and hearing loss.

tobacco

Tobacco. No studies have shown that tobacco has an effect on hearing. 

Overweight, obese person, representing obesity

Obesity. Obesity has a negative impact on hearing, especially on the ear’s capacity to hear high frequencies.

Food pyramid

Diet. According to a study by the University of Sydney, Australia, an increased intake of omega-3 fatty acids, and the fish containing them, may reduce the risk of age-related hearing loss. Similarly, a study conducted by Japanese researchers found that the consumption of high levels of vitamin A is associated with a low incidence of hearing loss.

Woman doing exercise

Exercise. Several medical studies have observed a correlation between the health of the cardiovascular system and hearing. Exercise promotes a healthy cardiovascular system. When the ears work, the hair cells within the inner ear transform acoustic vibrations into electrical signals which are sent to the brain. The blood pressure around the cells in the ear is higher in people in good physical shape. This could explain why exercise is good for our hearing.

The exercise is good four our hearing. The blood pressure around the cells in the ear is higher in people in good physical shape.

Sexual relations

Sexuality. Hearing loss is not only detrimental to communication, it also has a negative effect on the patient’s quality of life, psychosocial profile and sex life. Patients must remember that hearing loss is not just an auditory problem, but also a strong indicator of a reduction in their quality of life.

travel, ariplane

Travelling. People with hearing loss are advised to:

  • Observe everyone else and copy what they do.
  • Always carry some paper and a pencil.
  • Prepare the journey in advance.
  • Take itineraries with you.
  • Do not chat while driving.
  • Remove your hearing aid when travelling by plane.
sleep

Sleep. Hearing loss is sometimes associated with ringing in the ears (tinnitus), which involves hearing noises in your head that can affect your sleep.

Apoyo emocional, mujeres

Social and emotional support. People who live with someone with hearing loss should observe the following guidelines:

  • Before starting to speak, ensure they are paying attention.
  • Wait until they are looking at you before talking.
  • When talking in a group, you must all respect each other’s turn to speak and indicate who will speak next.
  • Talk face-on and speak towards the side with better hearing.
  • Make sure they can see your mouth when you speak.
  • Speak clearly, naturally, not too quickly and articulate well.
  • Do not shout. Speak at a normal volume, unless they tell you otherwise.
  • Avoid noisy locations when talking to someone with hearing problems. Remember that background noise interferes with their hearing aid.
  • Explain things using more basic words when they do not understand what you say. If necessary, write things down.
  • Use gestures to explain. Give visual hints or cues when you want to change the topic of conversation.
  • Repeat the message if they did not understand. Say the same thing but with simpler, yet always complete, sentences and using synonyms.
  • Use natural gestures, writing or drawings to help get the message across.
  • Above all, be very patient, positive and cheerful.

Substantiated information by:

Ignacio Berdejo Gago
Miguel Caballero Borrego

Published: 18 May 2018
Updated: 18 May 2018

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