How Does Hearing Loss Affect Your Day to Day Life?
Reports estimate that more than 1.5 billion people currently have some degree of hearing loss, which is expected to increase to 2.5 billion by 2050.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) approximates that over 400 million people live with disabling hearing loss, which impinges on their health and quality of life, 34 million of them are children.
Hearing loss occurs in people of all ages. It not only influences the individual but their families and the economy. So, what are the types of hearing loss and how does it affect your day to day life?
Types of Hearing Loss
There are three different types of hearing loss, and that loss can differ in severity from mild to profound. The different types include:
- Sensorineural Hearing Loss: The hearing loss is situated in the cochlea or hearing nerve, or sometimes both. This is the most common type of hearing loss found particularly in adults and is most often related to damage accumulated over a lifetime or due to exposure to loud sound.
- Conductive Hearing Loss: The hearing loss is caused by problems in the ear canal or the middle ear. This type of hearing loss can be temporary or permanent.
- Mixed Hearing Loss: This term is used when conductive and sensorineural hearing loss are found in the same ear.
The type of hearing loss and severity will often impact each person’s experience differently, from minimal problems understanding speech to extreme difficulty.
Globally, 430 million people have at least a moderate hearing loss that is expected to negatively impact their daily activities and quality of life if left unaddressed.
More than 65% of adults aged 60 years and over have hearing loss, and the likelihood increases with age.
Impact of Hearing Loss
The impact of hearing loss on life can be broken down into eight categories:
1. Listening and communication
This is the ability to maintain effective communication with others daily. This is the most common area of difficulty for Australians with untreated hearing loss.
For example, you may find that conversations are unclear, so you ask people to repeat themselves. This typically leads to frustration for both parties. Depending on the severity of the loss, people may have more serious difficulties, such as not understanding any conversation.
2. Speech and language
Children learn spoken language by copying what they hear from others. As a result, hearing loss can cause a delay in speech and language development.
Research has found that speech and language delays in children with hearing loss are likely to remain in adulthood.
For people who develop hearing loss later in life, their perception of their voice changes, so they may speak loudly, or the quality of their speech may deteriorate.
Many studies have identified hearing loss as the most significant risk factor for age-related dementia that can be addressed. A study by Johns Hopkins School of Medicine found that even a mild hearing loss doubled the risk of dementia.
The good news is, research also shows that addressing hearing loss with hearing aids can prevent up to 9% of new dementia cases.
Hearing loss can influence people’s education over a lifetime. There is a higher risk of an early exit from school and reduced access to higher education.
The link between hearing loss and employment is obvious and supported by research. Generally, adults with hearing loss have a greater probability of unemployment or underemployment.
6. Mental health
Lower quality of life and increased frequency of depression are often reported by people with hearing loss. They also report feeling embarrassed, anxious, frustrated and rejected.
7. Social isolation
Evidence shows that people with hearing loss show higher levels of loneliness, especially if they don’t wear hearing aids. Individuals with hearing loss may choose to avoid social situations because of the increased difficulty to understand and maintain conversations.
Hearing loss reduces the ability to communicate effectively. As a result, it can impede bonding between children and their parents.
Adults with hearing loss report frustration, miscommunication and disagreements, leading to strained relationships.
Regardless of the severity of the type of hearing loss, the way it affects people’s lives depends on whether it is successfully treated or not.
If you have had a hearing test and have been diagnosed with hearing loss, hearing aids are one of the best ways to cope.