How Does Hearing Loss Affect Your Speech?

woman cupping hand to ear outdoors

According to experts, hearing loss is a progressive condition that can affect speech if left untreated. The truth is these speech interferences affect both parties engaged in a conversation. In other words, the person with hearing loss and the other individual listening will experience difficulty expressing or understanding some words. Here are a few examples of how this happens.

A Higher Volume in Spoken Voice

There is always the tendency to overcompensate when people lose their hearing. This usually happens in the unconscious volume rise during conversations. Even when the environment is quiet, the person with hearing loss speaks as though communicating in a loud crowd. The increase in voice volume happens because of the inability to hear themselves when talking. Therefore, persons hard of hearing unintentionally overcompensate by speaking louder than they ordinarily would.

Unfortunately, there are social implications to this as some people interpret it as rude and uncouth. Unless the other person being spoken to understands the issue of hearing loss, it can be pretty uncomfortable being at the receiving end of it. Another concern is the person with hearing loss can lose the normal voice tone and speech quality.

Inability to Capture Verbal Markers

This happens a lot with consonant sounds rather than vowels. The brain of a person with gradual hearing loss fails to capture high-pitched or high-frequency sounds. For example, in spoon, the combination of the consonants sp is considered high pitched and cannot be picked up by a hard of hearing person. Therefore, instead of the actual word, they hear oon, which has a lower frequency sound.

Unlike vowel sounds which do not need much mouth movement, consonants require much use of the tongue, lips and jaw movements. More importantly, they produce subtle vibration sounds that resonate in the head. This is not something a person with hearing loss has.

In speech, the problem remains because a person who is hard of hearing fails to recognize these sounds, leading to what seems like muffling when pronouncing their consonant sounds. In some circles, this is described as the loss of crispness in speech conversations. It is also noted as a disconnect between the brain and ears.

Elongated Speech Sounds

If you have ever communicated with a hard-of-hearing person, one observation you may have made is the issue of elongated words. They unconsciously stretch their words, hoping that they will carry along to the person being talked to. This problem arises due to the inability to hear faint sounds, consequently leading to that identifiable drawl.

It sounds more like talking from upstairs to another person seated downstairs. Among people without hearing loss, the stretching of words is done when the person is far off. The objective is to elongate the words to reach the other person. In a person with hearing loss, this is constant. According to some speech therapists, regular stretching of words strains the breathing process. 

Decreased Speech Perception

This is most likely the most significant part of it all. A reduction in speech comprehension takes a toll on social interactions. In other words, the difficulty in hearing and the ripple effects on your ability to communicate correctly make you lose interest in conversations. Furthermore, decreased speech perception involves an inability to put emotions in your words. This is because you are already straining to sound audible, which gives way to a possible loss of emotions in your speech.

Decreased Ability in Pronouncing New Vocabularies

This involves persons who are still building on their pronunciations and speech. The decreased ability to pronounce new words inhibits their study and increases anxiety. It explains why persons with undiagnosed hearing loss tend to speak with increased levels of unease, apprehension and sometimes angst. Additionally, this gradually builds into a lack of interest in learning until they are fitted with hearing aids.

Reduction in Self-Expression

The objective of self-expression is to use words to show personal feelings, thoughts and opinions. It is a crucial part of interaction with others. However, with hearing loss and all the issues it comes with, people with hearing cannot express themselves adequately. The difficulty in doing so compels several to choose silence over verbal expression. Over time, some get reclusive.

Perhaps you are experiencing hearing loss but want to be sure. For more information about hearing loss or an interest in getting your ears tested, do so at Kirsch Audiology or call us today at 310-586-5533.