Do you find yourself struggling to keep up with conversation or having to ask people to repeat themselves? This happens to everyone every now and then but if this becomes an all too common experience then it is time to admit that you may have hearing loss. The important thing to understand is that you are not alone. 466 million people struggle with hearing loss worldwide and it is estimated that by 2050 this number has the potential to grow to 700 million. In the past hearing loss has been associated as an issue with the elderly but now a younger generation is dealing with this issue. The important thing is to not let the stigma or shame of hearing loss impede you from seeking treatment for this very serious condition.
Why Pretending Can Make It Worse
It can be exhausting to have to constantly ask for clarification when in constant conversation. Once or twice is fine, but when you have hearing loss this will become much more commonplace, especially as symptoms become worse. Hearing loss is a progressive disorder, meaning that it may start slow, seeming to be barely noticeable. However, over time the condition has the potential to reach a point in which you struggle to hear, even in the most controlled listening environments. Pretending you understand what others are saying means that you are not actually able to accurately respond to what is being communicated to you. This can lead to resentment at home, as little misunderstandings start to compile into major conflicts. This can easily cause major rifts amongst you and your loved ones and friends.
Pretending to Hear in the Workplace
The Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA) reports that of the 15% of Americans who report some degree of hearing loss, about 60 percent are either in the workplace or an educational setting. Pretending to hear what your employers and coworkers are saying to you can get you into a lot of trouble at work. You will find yourself missing key information and making huge mistakes. In an industrial environment, missing important information can quickly become a major safety risk. A study by the Better Hearing Institute (BHI) surveyed over 40,000 households utilizing the National Family Opinion (NFO) panel and found that hearing loss negatively impacted household income by up to $12,000 per year, depending on the degree of an individual’s hearing loss. The good news is, that the study found that those who treated their hearing loss were able to mitigate this impact by 50%.
The truth of the matter is that hearing loss can break people’s trust in you. If you are meeting with clients, coworkers or teachers, pretending to hear can leave them feeling you are not competent or paying attention. The truth will serve you much better. If others do not know you deal with hearing issues, they can be puzzled or resentful of your lack of response.
Being Open About Your Hearing Loss
The American Disability Act of 1990 requires employers with more than 15 employees to provide reasonable accommodations to employees with disabilities, and to not discriminate based on disability. This means that if you are open about your hearing loss you are actually protected and have a chance to succeed. Being open about your hearing loss with friends and loved ones gives you a chance to ask for accommodations to help you understand and communicate better. At work, accommodations can be assistive technology like talk to text applications or being moved to a quieter location to work. Accommodations in your personal life can be asking people to maintain eye contact, not speak to you from another room or turning down other sounds in the room when speaking so you can make sure to follow your best.
The most important thing to do is to make sure you treat your hearing loss. While hearing loss is irreversible it can be effectively treated using hearing aids in most cases. Not only can this help you in the workplace but with friends and family. You can re-build trust and reliability while avoiding the stress and miscommunication that accompanies chronically pretending to hear. Make an appointment to have your hearing tested today!