How do you respond when you have trouble hearing a conversation? Do you nod along and scramble to pick up pieces of context? Do you hear yourself constantly asking people to speak up and repeat themselves? Have you surrendered yourself to being out of the loop? All of these approaches can make social interactions irritating or embarrassing, and they are all signs you may be having trouble negotiating hearing loss.
If you consistently find yourself pretending to hear, don’t fret, you’re responding to social cues and patterns that are deeply ingrained in our culture. But if you have hearing trouble it is important to advocate for yourself and your hearing health. Usually, accommodating hearing loss can be easily done, you just have to ask.
Recognizing Hearing Loss
If you consistently have trouble following conversations, yet you have never had your hearing checked, your very first step is to schedule a hearing exam. Having your hearing analyzed by an audiologist at Greentree Hearing and Audiology can determine if you have hearing loss, and the best approaches for treating it.
Faking your way through conversations without seeking treatment for hearing issues means you are allowing a hearing problem the opportunity to get worse. When hearing loss worsens, not only does it further limit what we can hear, it changes the very way our brain processes sound, making recovering your hearing more challenging.
Hearing loss, especially when it happens gradually can be difficult to recognize, but having trouble comprehending conversations should be one of your first signs that you need to have your hearing checked. A hearing exam can put you on the path to rehabilitating your hearing and accessing solutions that can put you back in the conversation.
Recognizing a Change In Your Hearing
Perhaps you already know you are dealing with hearing loss, and maybe you even make use of hearing aids to help you hear. If hearing in a conversational setting is still challenging for you, it may mean that your hearing has changed or that the programming of your hearing devices needs to be adjusted.
Don’t sit on checking your hearing or your hearing aids. After all, your hearing aids are designed to help you stay engaged and mitigate the effects of your hearing loss, so you always want them to do their best job.
A change in the way you hear may be an indication of a pressing concern, like an infection or blockage, so if your hearing has become a challenge, consult with your audiologist about potential causes and solutions.
Advocating For Yourself
Whether or not you have been diagnosed with hearing loss, navigating the world with hearing challenges means advocating for yourself. Understand how to speak up in a conversation and maneuver yourself so you can best be part of the dialog.
The first part of self-advocacy, as detailed above, is getting an understanding of the hearing challenges you face and getting access to hearing solutions. Even with hearing aids, comprehending conversations can present specific challenges to your hearing. When these challenges arise, it is often a natural response to try to fake comprehension, however, openness and self-advocacy can put you in a much better situation than pretending to hear can.
Ask for What You Need
Positioning yourself in a conversation is key for those dealing with hearing impairments. Especially in large group meetings or conversations position yourself close to the speaker, or centrally to multiple speakers. If there is an option to sit with your back to a wall in a setting like a bar or a restaurant, this can also help facilitate your ability to pick up and place sound.
If you have special hearing needs in a group, be open about them. Hearing loss is not taboo, and asking for what you need helps make accommodating hearing loss more natural for everyone involved. You can say things like “I have some trouble hearing, but if I can sit in a spot that facilitates better comprehension, I’ll have a much easier time understanding everyone.” If you are involved in a one-on-one conversation, be open about your hearing loss and ask them to help you understand what they are saying.
Technology can also help facilitate better understanding. If you are a smart phone user, consider trying out different speech-to-text translators to help you stay involved in conversations. Don’t be afraid of explaining your app use to friends and co-workers, after all it’s just a tool to help you stay involved and hear your best.
Visit Us at Greentree Hearing & Audiology
You don’t have to live with untreated hearing loss! Break the habit of pretending to hear, and schedule a consultation and hearing test with us at Greentree Hearing & Audiology today.