You want to be courteous when you’re talking to friends. At work, you want to look engaged, even enthralled with what your manager/co-worker/clients are saying. You regularly find yourself needing family to repeat themselves because it was easier to tune out parts of the conversation that you weren’t able to hear very well.
You have to move in a little closer when you’re on conference calls. You watch for facial cues, listen for inflection, and pay close attention to body language. You read lips. And if all else fails – you fake it.
Maybe you’re in denial. You missed lots of the conversation, and you’re struggling to keep up. You might not know it, but years of progressive hearing loss can have you feeling isolated and frustrated, making projects at work and life at home needlessly difficult.
Some research shows that situational factors such as environmental acoustics, background noise, competing signals, and environmental awareness have a strong influence on how a person hears. These factors are relevant, but they can be a lot more severe for individuals who are suffering from hearing loss.
Watch out for these behaviors
Here are some habits to help you determine whether you are, in fact, convincing yourself that your hearing loss is not affecting your social and professional relationships, or whether it’s simply the acoustics in the environment:
- Feeling as if people are mumbling and not speaking clearly
- Cupping your hands over your ear or leaning in close to the person talking without noticing it
- Constantly having to ask people to repeat what they said
- Finding it more difficult to hear over the phone
- Pretending to comprehend, only to later ask others what you missed
- Unable to hear people talking behind you
While it may feel like this crept up on you suddenly, chances are your hearing impairment didn’t happen overnight. The majority of people wait an average of 7 years before acknowledging the issue and finding help.
That means that if your hearing loss is a problem now, it has most likely been going unaddressed and neglected for some time. Begin by making an appointment now, and stop fooling yourself, hearing loss is no joke.