How does hearing loss affect my life?

Virtually no condition in medicine can have as profound an effect on quality of life as even moderate hearing loss in some people. Hearing loss makes even routine communication difficult. High frequency hearing loss often involves loss of ability to hear consonants such as s, f, t, and z, even though vowels can be heard normally. Consequently, people hear but cannot make out what is being said. This may result in frustration, marital discord, withdrawal from social activities and depression. People lose the ability to take in the sounds that make life worth living, like bird songs, rustling of leaves and the voices of children. In general, these infringements on the quality of life can be overcome through medical or surgical treatment or amplification.

When hearing loss occurs early in childhood, its devastating consequences are more obvious than when it occurs insidiously late in life. A substantial hearing deficit in infancy interferes with the normal process of psychological and emotional development. Severe hearing loss makes learning a mammoth task for the child, and frustration or isolation frequently results. The personality distortion that results from this sequence of events affects the person and his family throughout their lives. Even more mild forms of hearing loss early in life can cause great difficulties, including poor attention and bad grades in school. Frequently, such children are considered “not too bright,” before anyone realizes that a hearing loss is present. When it is corrected, the changes in the child’s performance, attitude and interactions are often remarkable.