Audiologist Doing A Hearing Test

Hearing Loss & Fatigue

Ever feel exhausted after a long class, work meeting or even social event? It can be exhausting to listen, as you process new information, store it and even deal with the emotional impact. However, this can be an even more exhausting task if you have undiagnosed or untreated hearing loss. 

The Exhaustion of Hearing Loss

When hearing loss sets in it often starts slowly. In fact most of us do not even realize we have hearing loss until we struggle to hear even in the most ideal of listening situations. It is often certain consonants, tones or pitches which go missing first. While subtle, the loss of the ability to hear these sounds leaves holes in what we can hear in words and sentences. This causes our brains to work that much harder to fill in the spaces we have missed. Sort of like filling in a constant crossword or word search while we have just about any conversation. As you can imagine this can force the brain to work overtime and cause what is known as “brain fatigue”.

The Brain’s Role in Our Hearing

While our ears pick up sound, we actually interpret those sounds with our brain. When sound is created it is picked up by the tiny hair cells of our inner ear, which transform soundwaves into electrical pulses which are interpreted by our brain. Our brain can determine not just what is being said and its meaning, but the direction, proximity and approaching speed of a sound. Hearing loss occurs as these cells of the inner ear become damaged or destroyed. What is important to understand is that each hair cell is responsible for translating a specific pitch or frequency. When these cells die or are damaged, your brain can no longer receive the frequencies which the dead cells were responsible for. This causes our brain to work twice as hard to compensate.

Knowing the Signs

Hearing loss is becoming more and more common for a younger demographic. Previously thought of as a condition only affecting the elderly, more and more people are experiencing hearing loss at a much younger age. Currently there are 40 million people in the US between 20 and 69 years of age dealing with noise induced hearing loss. Knowing the signs of hearing loss can help you diagnose this condition early, so you can treat it before it becomes a larger issue. If you find yourself constantly asking people to repeat themselves in private and professional settings this is one of the most common clues. Another common sign is that you may find that it is more difficult to hear in a noisy setting, while others don’t seem bothered. Perhaps you find yourself having trouble hearing over the telephone or need the TV turned up to hear while others complain you’ve turned the volume up too loud. If this has been your experience it is a very good idea to not take it lightly.

The Risks Of Hearing Loss

Everyone becomes tired when listening to a speech, lecture, long meeting or difficult conversation, but for those with hearing loss it can be exhausting just to have a casual conversation. The risk you run by not dealing with this issue at its most early detection is that the fatigue caused by hearing loss, can make a social interaction which may have once been easy and fun and a grueling task. Many with hearing loss tend to withdraw from friends and family members. They may not even understand why they are becoming more reclusive but for those with untreated hearing loss, this kind of social isolation can quickly lead to depression, anxiety, cognitive decline and lack of activity. This in turn can lead to a host of other health risks. It is important to understand that the body and mind are connected, so neglecting one health condition such as a hearing condition, can ultimately lead to heart issues, diabetes and hypertension.

Treating Your Hearing Loss to Combat Listening Fatigue

While hearing loss is most times not reversible, it can be treated effectively with hearing aids. Hearing aids rest in the ear and amplify the specific sounds you struggle with, reducing fatigue and making conversation and navigating the world a much less stressful task. However, of those who could benefit from hearing aids, only 20% wear hearing aids and most wait 7- 10 years. Don’t be part of this demographic! Make an appointment to have your hearing tested today and stay alert and connected to the life you love.