Hearing management

Updated 30 November 2017

Deaf and in love?

He leans in closer to whisper sweet nothings in your ear, but you can't hear what he's saying. How frustrating to miss the moment when your partner tries to direct dinner into a more exciting direction.

An undiagnosed and untreated hearing impairment can have a fundamental impact on your personal relationships and if left untreated, lead to a breakdown in communication between you and your partner.

With Valentine’s Day nearly upon us, you want to be sure you follow all the signals and stay on top of the sexy conversation your partner will want to have with you.

How ‘huh?’ can dampen your date

Kayleen Jacobs, Senior Audiologist in the Western Cape says that hearing loss can be difficult for everyone involved, and she advises hearing impaired couples to be aware of the challenges as they plan their Valentine’s celebrations.

“It is common for a hearing person to get angry when they constantly need to repeat themselves or when they need to shout for their partner to hear them – while their hearing impaired partner may feel afraid or embarrassed when they need to keep asking their loved one to repeat things.

“Hearing impaired people may also feel anxious about going out into loud places or with large groups, as they fear they may not be able to follow a conversation in such a setting,” she says.

How do you know you have a hearing problem?

Jacobs says that people who suspect that someone they love might have hearing problems should take action when:

-    The person speaks really loudly
-    The person hardly contributes in a group conversation, and isolates themselves in such a setting
-    The person often asks for things to be repeated
-    The person looks at face or lip movements in order to follow a conversation
-    Keeps on answering incorrectly

Read: Identifying hearing deficiency

Date suggestions for couples when there is a hearing impairment

To be sure that hearing impairments don’t become an issue this Valentine’s Day, Jacobs says that there are practical strategies that can help make the experience pleasant and problem free.

When you plan to enjoy a dinner for two at home or in public there are simple communication techniques that can be employed to communicate with someone who is hearing impaired.

-    Always face the person when speaking. This provides visual cues.
-    Speak clearly with normal volume. Don’t over-articulate speech.
-    Eliminate background noise wherever possible. Turn off the TV, radio etc.
-    If you visit a restaurant and the hearing impaired person is wearing a hearing aid, the person should preferably sit in a corner so that the hearing aid doesn’t have to deal with both speech and background sound.
-  Get the hearing impaired person’s attention before you address them. Tap them on the shoulder.
-  If you’re joining friends, make sure they know about your partner’s disability beforehand.

When to get a hearing aid?

Hearing Aid Manufacturer, Oticon says that up to 84% of hearing aid users have reported easier communication with loved ones.

Read: What is a hearing aid? and Types of hearing aids

Octicon CEO Lezannie Bakker stresses the importance of hearing tests and says these tests do not take long and are not painful.

When going for a routine health check, have your hearing tested, she says.

Contact details:

South African Speech Language and Hearing Association
South African Association of Audiology


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Ask the Expert

Hearing Expert

Dr Kara Hoffman graduated from UCT in 2004, thereafter she completed her year of community service in Durban. In 2010 she completed her Masters Degree in Paediatric Aural Rehabilitation from UKZN. In 2016, she became a Doctor of Audiology through the University of Arizona (ATSU). Dr Hoffman and her partner Lauren Thompson opened a fully diagnostic audiology practice called Thompson & Hoffman Audiology Inc. In 2011 with world-class technology and equipment to be able to offer the broad public all hearing-related services including hearing testing for adults and babies, vestibular (balance) assessments and rehabilitation, industrial audiology, hearing devices, central auditory processing assessments for school-aged children, school screening, neonatal hearing screening programmes at Alberlito and Parklands Hospital, cochlear implants and other implantable devices, medicolegal assessments and advanced electroacoustic assessments of hearing. Thompson and Hoffman Audiology Inc. are based at Alberlito Hospital in Ballito, St Augustines Hospital in Durban and at 345 Essenwood Road, Musgrave. The practices are all wheelchair friendly. There are three audiologists that practice from Thompson & Hoffman – including Dr Kara Hoffman, Lauren Thompson & Minette Lister. The practice boasts professional, highly qualified, and extensive diagnostic services where all your hearing healthcare needs can be met. The additional licensing in vestibular assessment and rehabilitation, paediatric rehabilitation and cochlear implantation places this practice in one of the top specialist audiological positions in South Africa, with a wealth of experience in all clinical areas of audiology and is a very well respected and sought-after practice.

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