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Published On: Thu, Aug 6th, 2020

Hearing Loss & Mental Health: The Impact of Hearing Loss On Mental Wellbeing

Hearing loss refers to a reduction in a person’s ability to hear. Some individuals may still be able to hear loud sounds or sounds produced close to them, while others may experience total loss of hearing. Only 0.2% of the population is born deaf, while 15% of the adult population of the United States have experienced some level of decline in their ability to hear properly.

Hearing plays a crucial role in enabling individuals to communicate with others and consume electronic media. Individuals who are unable to hear correctly may find their relationships, careers, and lifestyle are affected. Their inability to hear properly may result in mental health issues.

Mental Health Issues

Partial loss of hearing may initially experience frustration, particularly if they are unaware that their ability to hear has been reduced. They may be irritated by people who appear to speak softly and ask people to repeat themselves. This can lead to anger, anxiety, and depression. Some individuals may go through a period of denial. It’s common for people with some hearing issues to avoid getting their hearing tested for several years, which delays treatment.

People who can’t hear properly may struggle with their relationships because of their inability to communicate effectively. They may be discouraged if they are unable to enjoy music or television programs they enjoy. Being unable to hear correctly can lead to loneliness and a sense of isolation. Some individuals who struggle to hear also experience a decline in their cognitive abilities.

anxiety stress photo

photo/ Pete Linforth

Causes

A small percentage of the population is born deaf or with reduced hearing. Others experience a decline in their ability to hear as they age. Anything that prevents sound from reaching the inner ear can cause loss of hearing For example, a buildup of wax in the outer ear may impair a person’s ability to hear correctly. Tumors and fluid can also prevent sound from traveling to the inner ear.

Loss of hearing can also be the result of damage to the cochlear hair cells located in the inner ear. These hair cells are responsible for converting sound into electrical signals, which are transferred to the brain. Medications, such as radiation and chemotherapy, can damage these hair cells. Cochlear hair cells can also be damaged or destroyed by exposure to loud sounds. Other factors that can cause hearing loss through damage to the hair cells include age and genetics.

People can also have viral hearing loss. This means they lose their hearing due to an infection. Rubella, HIV, herpes simplex virus, measles, mumps, and West Nile virus can cause hearing loss.

Diagnosis

If you are having difficulty hearing, it is crucial to immediately be tested by an audiologist. Visit a hearing center where an audiologist, such as the professionals with Hearing Health USA, can perform an examination and hearing test. Audiologists are medical doctors who diagnose and treat hearing and balance issues. These medical experts are qualified to determine the cause of your hearing issues and identify potential treatments for your condition.

Emotional Support

Turn to mental health experts for cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) to address any mental health issues stemming from your loss of hearing. CBT experts, such as those with the Baltimore Therapy Group, concentrate on treating patients with anxiety and depression. Mental health experts will help you process trauma you may have experienced, and they will work with you to help you develop strategies to manage the mental health issues your hearing issues have caused.

Potential Treatments

Removing wax, fluid, or tumors that are obstructing the ear canal may restore hearing. Individuals with otosclerosis can have a stapedectomy, which involves implanting artificial stapes so that they move correctly. Hearing aids or cochlear implants may benefit some people with hearing issues.

Communication Strategies

Some hearing loss may be irreversible, but this does not mean that individuals with permanent hearing loss cannot communicate. Individuals can learn to speak sign language or to read lips.

Author: Eli Leon

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