How Unilateral Hearing Loss Can Affect Adult Life

February 10, 2020

Unilateral hearing loss (UHL), the loss of hearing in one ear (as opposed to bilateral hearing loss, which occurs in both ears) affects an estimated 7.2 percent of the population. The National Acoustic Laboratories performed a recent study about the effects of UHL on adult life. In the study, the researchers talked to adults who were either born with UHL or had acquired it later in life in order to determine how they coped with it and which specific challenges they face.

Congenital vs. acquired hearing loss

The NAL study found that there is a marked difference between those who were born with unilateral hearing loss in Waterloo, IA and those who acquired it later in life. Congenital hearing loss patients typically regarded the condition as just a fact of life—they’re used to not being able to hear in one ear, and many found hearing aids to be more annoying than helpful. Adults who acquired the hearing loss, however, often went through a mourning and adjustment period as they learned more about their “new normal.” That’s because congenital patients had a lifetime to develop coping mechanisms, such as lip reading.

Day-to-day life

The day to day impacts of UHL are varied, but the two main complaints patients reported were difficulty following conversations in loud or crowded environments, and localization, or trying to pinpoint where sounds are coming from. This often contributes to fatigue in patients, as they must exert a lot of extra effort to participate in social situations. Some reported better sleep because there’s less background noise, but others were concerned about being woken from sleep in an emergency.

There are also psychological impacts to unilateral hearing loss in Waterloo, IA. First, many reported an impact on their mental health, citing stress and anxiety about their safety or the safety of those around them. Second, their self-esteem was damaged, thanks to worries about feeling inadequate or self-conscious about their hearing loss.

In turn, this leads to reduced social activities or engagement, as well as missing out on important information. Patients reported that they are worried about a perceived stigma in both social and workplace situations, to the point where some said they don’t wear their hearing aids to work because they don’t want people to know they have a disability.

Those who chose not to use hearing aids developed various coping mechanisms, such as sign language, favoring their good ear and learning where to position themselves in a crowded room in order to hear properly.

Get help with unilateral hearing loss in Waterloo, IA

If you’re suffering from UHL and are looking for quality hearing aids in Waterloo, IA, Potter’s Hearing Aid Service can help. For decades, we’ve helped test for hearing loss, outfit our patients with assistive listening devices and repair and maintain hearing aids. Our mission is to help you hear clearly, and we can help you reclaim your quality of life. Call or stop by today to set up an appointment for your hearing test, hearing aid fitting or maintenance services.

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