Hearing loss is a tricky medical condition. It’s not difficult to diagnose or treat. Instead, the problem often stems from convincing a patient to seek treatment. There are five distinct emotional stages through which many people pass when dealing with their own hearing loss, and, perhaps not surprisingly, these stages match the five stages of grieving. With about 15% of all American adults living with some degree of hearing loss, lack of coping with the process is all too common, and those affected may deal needlessly with poor communication, social isolation, and loss of enjoyment of life as they work through these stages. Contemporary hearing aids and other assistive technologies, though, provide remarkable options for even significant hearing loss. Hearing & Balance Services of Reston is ready to help you or your loved one when you’re ready to move forward with your hearing aid prescription.

The 5 stages of hearing loss

The changes that occur with hearing loss are often so gradual they’re difficult to detect because your brain adapts. Your hearing seems “normal” to you at all times because of this adaptation. It’s typically those around you who detect your hearing loss and bring it to your attention that starts the process moving forward. Make no mistake — it can create a confrontational situation and a significant upheaval in your life. And, in a very real way, you may need to “grieve” your lost hearing before you can move ahead. While the five stages of hearing loss match those of grieving, everyone has their own response. You may experience the stages in a different order than others, or you may have a sense of loss that’s lesser or greater than someone else. There’s no right way to work through this process.

1. “You’re mumbling. It’s not me.”

It’s often a shock to find out from others that your hearing is fading. There are no easily identifiable signs or symptoms with gradual hearing loss, and your brain’s remarkable adaptability to compensate for the deficit doesn’t help you accept your situation. Therefore, denial is usually the first emotion you’ll deal with when it comes to hearing loss. It’s often a legitimate surprise.

2. “I don’t deserve this.”

Anger is up next. If you’ve worked in a noisy environment or attended plenty of loud concerts, you may feel unjustly victimized. It’s common to lash out at the invisible forces that caused your hearing loss, and you may get angry about the changes that loss means to daily living. Defensiveness about misheard conversations is also common.

3. “Let me get better.”

The bargaining stage sees you ready to make a deal with anyone or anything if only your hearing would go back to normal. Perhaps the most private and personal stage, bargaining isn’t logical, so few people talk about it. However, it can be a stage that you recognize in yourself.

4. “Life isn’t fun now.”

Depression hits when you realize the new challenges you face. No longer in denial, you begin to see the conversations you miss. There’s worry about the costs associated with hearing health care and the impact your hearing could have on school or your job.

5. “It’s time to act.”

Acceptance is the last stage when you find the determination to contact Hearing & Balance Services of Reston to schedule a hearing test and consultation. You’ll likely feel the emotions from the other stages of hearing loss again, but as you adapt to your assistive devices, concern about your hearing moves to the backburner.