The Dangers of Pretending to Hear

The Dangers of Pretending to Hear

What was that? It can be exhausting for anyone to hear in a noisy environment. When there are multiple conversations happening at once over a loud sound system or a noisy fan it can be disorienting—however for those who live with hearing loss the challenge is amplified. Hearing loss makes it difficult to separate and prioritize sounds. In fact, it is often in noisy environments where many people first start to realize they may have a hearing issue. 

Hearing loss affects 48 million people in the Untitled States meaning 1 in 5 will have some degree and may not even know it. It is important to be well versed in the common signs of hearing loss so if it is happening to you or someone close to you can spot it early. Unaddressed hearing loss can lead to rifts in relationships, feelings of isolation, depression and anxiety and even cognitive decline –even in the early stages. There are many strategies people use when they live with an undiagnosed hearing loss, such as pretending to hear, as they tire of asking for someone to repeat themselves yet again—however pretending to hear is a slippery slope! 

Why People Pretend to Hear

We all have done it every now and then to not interrupt a conversation. We may fear it is rude to do so, even though pretending to hear is not listening or following a speaker. This is especially true in noisy settings such as a restaurant, bar, train, or party when multiple people are speaking at once. When background noise is everywhere, you may find yourself nodding along to what someone is saying, while having no idea as to what they are saying. While this may be based on the idea of not wanting to interrupt the speaker or not wanting to inconvenience others by asking to repeat information or simply being embarrassed it can add up to further issues down the road.

Accepting a Hearing Loss

Another very common reason people pretend to hear is to hide or avoid dealing with their hearing loss. Accepting a hearing loss can be difficult for people as it means admitting that you have a lifelong disability to address. Many people worry that admitting a hearing loss means accepting growing older or feeling weak, however it is important to fight these stigmas. On the other side of admitting a hearing loss is a life where you can ask for help and seek treatment

Impact of Pretending to Hear

Pretending to hear will only make things harder in the long run. For instance, you can pretend all you want, but eventually people will understand that you haven’t been listening. They may feel that you are disinterested in what they are saying, or you are distracted. You may miss important information which will turn into dangerous mistakes later on.  Untreated hearing loss can impact your daily life in many ways including:

  • Strained Communication: as miscommunications build up, it can build resentment from the people in your life who feel you aren’t paying attention and seem disinterested. 
  • Social Withdrawal: As you find you are pretending to hear more it can lead to many embarrassing moments. Over time you may find it more relaxing to avoid socialization altogether. This can lead to social isolation—which increases the risk of depression, loneliness and cognitive decline increasing the risk of dementia as we age. It also increases the risk of unemployment and accidental injuries, so it is important to be proactive.

Treating Hearing Loss

On the other side of denial and pretending to hear is accepting your hearing loss. When you cross over to acceptance of your hearing loss you admit you have a problem and gather the courage to ask for help. We know it is not easy at first, but you may find that as you let people know about your hearing loss, it allows you to ask people to amend their communication style. You can ask them to speak slower or more clearly. Maintaining eye contact may also help you to have more successful conversations and reduce how much you have to ask people to repeat themselves. 

In addition, when you admit you have a hearing loss you can seek treatment in the form of hearing aids. Hearing aids can amplify the sounds you struggle to hear, making it easier for you to hear in noisy and quiet settings alike. To find out more, contact us today to schedule a hearing test with us!