When you think about the activities in your social life and the factors that cause you to be active or not, energy level, amount of free time, location of friends and family and overall health may be the first factors that come to mind. Ears are probably not on the list, but they should be. The ears, more specifically the auditory system and hearing health, play a key role in helping us stay active socially.

The World Health Organization points out that hearing loss impacts a person’s ability to communicate with others. Speaking and listening for the most part are a large part of our everyday communication tools and both are important for building and maintaining relationships. Good hearing health allows us to process the full conversation well so we can be confident in what we are hearing and in our response.

When hearing health starts to decline your ability to communicate also declines and both you and the people you interact with most frequently can become frustrated. This frustrated can turn into anger and avoidance. Friends and family may communicate less with you and you may also find yourself withdrawing from situations that require a lot of listening such as a gathering of friends, volunteering or meeting at a restaurant. While it may just start with a small change here and there to your social calendar, as the hearing loss becomes worse and goes untreated it has been shown that some people continue to withdraw to the point that they become lonely and often times depressed.

Luckily, there is a way to not let your ears get in the way of your social life. It starts by scheduling a hearing screening with an audiologist or hearing care professional. Regular hearing screenings help monitor your hearing health over time and catch hearing loss early, so you can avoid the many social and emotional impacts of untreated hearing loss.