Living With Hearing Loss
If you have
hearing loss, you may find that it takes extra effort
and energy to talk with others. Hearing may be especially difficult in settings
where there are many people talking or there is a lot of background noise. The
increased effort it takes to be with other people may cause stress and fatigue,
and you may begin to avoid social activities, feel less independent, and worry
about your safety.
Hearing devices you may want to use
- Hearing aids. Hearing aids make all sounds louder (amplify),
including your own voice. Common background noises, such as rustling
newspapers, magazines, and office papers, may be distracting. When you first
get hearing aids, it may take you several weeks to months to get used to this.
- Hearing Loss: Should I Get Hearing Aids?
- Assistive listening devices. These devices make
certain sounds louder by bringing the sound directly to your ear. They shorten
the distance between you and the source of sound and also reduce background
noise. You can use different types of devices for different situations, such as
one-on-one conversations and classroom settings or auditoriums, theaters, or
other large public spaces. Commonly used listening devices include telephone
amplifiers, personal listening systems (such as auditory trainers and personal
FM systems), and hearing aids that you can connect directly to a television,
stereo, radio, or microphone.
- Alerting devices. These devices alert you to a
particular sound (such as the doorbell, a ringing telephone, or a baby monitor)
by using louder sounds, lights, or vibrations to get your attention.
- Television closed-captioning. Television
closed-captioning makes it easier to watch television by showing the words at
the bottom of the screen so that you can read them. Most newer TVs have a
- TTY (text telephone). TTYs (also called TDD, or
telecommunication device for the deaf) allow you to type messages back and
forth on the telephone instead of talking or listening. When messages are typed
on the TTY keyboard, the information is sent over the phone line to a receiving
TTY and shown on a monitor. A telecommunications relay service (TRS) makes it
possible to call from a phone to a TTY or vice versa.
Many other communication devices, such as pagers, fax
machines, email, and custom calling features offered by phone companies, can
be helpful. To get more information about selecting and using listening,
alerting, and telecommunicating devices, talk to an audiologist.
For family and friends of people with hearing loss
A person with hearing loss may feel cut off from conversations and social
interaction. The extra effort and stress needed to take part in conversations
can be tiring for all people involved. If you live with someone who has hearing
loss, you may improve your communication by:
- Making sure the person knows you are speaking to him or her.
Use his or her name.
- Speaking to the person at a distance of
3 ft (0.9 m) to
6 ft (1.8 m). Make sure that
the person can see your face, mouth, and gestures. Arrange furniture and
lighting so that everyone in the conversation is completely
- Not speaking directly into the person's ear. Your facial
expressions and gestures can provide helpful visual clues about what you are
- Speaking slightly louder than normal, but don't shout.
Speak slowly and clearly. Don't repeat the same word over and over again. If a
particular word or phrase is misunderstood, find another way to say
- Telling the person when the topic of conversation
- Cutting down on background noise. Turn off the TV
or radio during conversations. Ask for quiet sections in restaurants, and try
to sit away from the door at theaters.
- Including the person in
discussions and conversations. Don't talk about the person as though he or she
Sarah Marshall, MD - Family Medicine
Steven T. Kmucha, MD - Otolaryngology
April 13, 2011
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