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Why Pretending to Hear Doesn’t Help



It often takes several years for people to seek treatment after noticing changes with their hearing. Hearing loss is a pervasive medical condition, impacting over 48 million people (nearly 1 in 5), that tends to be underdiagnosed.


People experiencing challenges with their hearing t might use various coping strategies to navigate conversations. One common strategy is pretending to hear. Not only is this not helpful but it is also harmful for hearing health and delays addressing the underlying health issue.


It is important to recognize this behavior, know its impact, and take the necessary steps to treat hearing loss.


Why People Pretend to Hear


We have all pretended to hear and are familiar with the contexts that can be challenging to have conversations in:


  • Noisy environments (restaurants, bars, trains etc.)

  • Multiple people involved in the conversation

  • Carrying a conversation while multitasking


These settings can produce background noise and other distractions that make it difficult to hear. People may find themselves nodding along without actually hearing everything that is being communicated. People do this for a variety of reasons: not wanting to interrupt the speaker, not wanting to inconvenience others by asking to repeat information, being embarrassed etc.


Another reason people can pretend to hear is to hide or avoid dealing with their hearing loss. It can be difficult for people to acknowledge changes to their hearing ability. People may perceive it as a sign of declining health or be unaware that it can significantly impact their life.


There are numerous misconceptions about hearing loss that also contribute to delayed treatment. People with untreated hearing loss often try to cope by pretending to hear. This however, is not a useful strategy and can cause more harm.


Impact of Pretending to Hear


Pretending to hear prevents people from identifying and addressing their hearing health. Hearing loss that remains untreated can take a significant toll on daily life and overall health by:


  • Straining Communication: pretending to hear can lead to missing important information and details in the workplace which can impact job performance. It can also impact the time you spend with family and friends – you can miss jokes, may not be able to respond as thoroughly etc. This can lead to less intimate and quality conversations, increase miscommunication, and make others feel like you may not be listening.


  • Leading to Social Withdrawal: strained communication can make it difficult to engage in conversations which can feel like too much work, taking away from the pleasure and fun of it. This can cause people with hearing loss to avoid conversations altogether, avoiding social gatherings and activities. Social withdrawal means spending less time with family and friends, participating in hobbies, and engaging with others. This can strain relationships by creating distance and tensions.


Social withdrawal and strained communication can contribute to feelings of loneliness, depression, and anxiety. The impact on mental health and persisting symptoms can make it difficult to manage personal and professional responsibilities. Additionally, untreated hearing loss can contribute to other medical conditions like cognitive decline. It also increases the risk of unemployment and accidental injuries.


Treating Hearing Loss


You can break the habit of pretending to hear by treating your underlying hearing loss. The first step is simple! Schedule an appointment for a hearing test which is facilitated by hearing healthcare specialists (like an audiologist). Hearing tests are a noninvasive and painless way to measure hearing ability in both ears. This identifies any impairment, the degree, and type of hearing loss you may be experiencing.


Fortunately, there are effective ways that hearing loss is treated. The most common treatment is hearing aids which are electronic devices that are designed to absorb and process sound. This significantly helps people hear in the various environments they navigate.


Similar to most electronic devices today, hearing aids have experienced much innovation. There is a wide range of options with various technologies and features that allow hearing aids to easily integrate in your daily life (wireless connectivity, voice recognition, preprogrammed settings etc.).


Treating hearing loss not only improves hearing, but reduces your risk of developing other health conditions. This contributes to enhanced quality of life, effective communication, and strengthened relationships. Contact us today to schedule an appointment for a hearing test.


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