Can Hearing Loss Affect Your Personality?

Can Hearing Loss Affect Your Personality?

Dr. T

What makes up our personality? Some describe it as the unique patterns of thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that distinguish you from others—a resulting combination of biology and environment, which should remain fairly consistent throughout life. However, as health factors change, this can affect key pillars of your behavior. In the case of hearing loss, it can make it difficult to connect to the people in our lives. People who identify as outgoing and extroverted may find that they struggle to socialize due to hearing issues. In fact studies believe that for those who don’t treat hearing loss, they may experience shifts in key aspects of how they identify themselves.

How Our Communication Defines Us

Communication has a stronger effect on who we are than many would recognize initially. It starts early in our childhood and continues to develop through adulthood as we communicate and react to the world. However, when hearing loss sets in it severs the connection of some sounds, tones and pitches from reaching the brain, leaving blanks in words and sentences. Our brain must work harder to follow conversations as it scrambles to fill in these blanks, leaving us more exhausted and frustrated during even simple social interactions. This can mean that as hearing loss progressively becomes worse over years, that for people who previously enjoyed social gatherings and interactions as a defining component of their personality, they may struggle to connect to this aspect due to an unaddressed hearing loss.

Personality Development and Hearing Loss

While children with hearing loss are more likely to be diagnosed with behavioral and learning issues, when addressed, we often witness these issues resolving themselves. This can not only give an individual the tools to thrive in educational, professional and social situations, but thrive in life.

By examining the process of personality development and the role of healthy hearing, we may be able to better understand the importance of treating hearing loss. When hearing loss in young children is not diagnosed and treated it has been connected to higher rates of behavioral issues. It’s also been noted that personality traits such as introversion are often associated with hearing impairment. Due to hearing loss this is to some degree a dimension of personality. 

Age-Related Hearing Loss

The risk of hearing loss increases as we age very fast. By 65 one in three will have hearing loss due to changes in the inner ear as we age. However, by 75 the rate of hearing loss rises to one in two! Similar to hearing loss observed in children with untreated hearing loss, older adults who have lived with a vibrant social life report struggling to connect to the people in their life. Family, friends and even your significant other may notice shifts in your ability and likeliness to be outgoing. Hearing loss can be frustrating for both people in a relationship and often loved ones will note that those with a hearing loss who were not angry or short-tempered in the past might have sudden outbursts of frustration. 

Diagnosis and Treatment

When these changes start to present themselves, they may feel like permanent shifts in personality. However, when you are able to diagnose and treat a hearing loss, many report that they are able to rediscover the person they were through most of life. Just as children who are diagnosed in early life with hearing loss have the best outcomes in terms of educational attainment and social integration when a hearing loss is addressed, older adults report similar success. However, a hearing loss can sneak up over years as it starts subtly and becomes more severe overtime. It is important to screen for hearing loss annually as you reach the age of 60 and beyond in order to catch a hearing loss before it can affect the core of how you relate to the world.

Schedule a Hearing Exam Today

The first step is scheduling a hearing exam as soon as possible. Our hearing is a vital sense which helps us connect to the world. Once you know you have a hearing loss you can take the steps to enjoy the life you love for years to come.