Untreated Hearing Loss Increases Daily Fatigue

People who suffer from hearing loss not only have difficulties listening to a conversation and understanding the speech, but also get exhausted and tired as listening requires a lot of energy and effort. Many times, we feel exhausted after attending a concert or communicating with our friends in a noisy environment. Listening to each other in a crowded space requires a higher level of cognitive processing. So, your brain must be able to filter the background sounds and noise to concentrate on the conversation. People with hearing loss experience more hearing-related daily fatigue than people with proper hearing.

Why is Listening Tiring?

Few people know that our brain has a major role to play in our ability to hear, understand and act accordingly. The inner ear’s sensory hair cells are in charge of converting all sounds collected by the outer ear into electrical signals, which are then sent to the brain via the auditory nerve.

When there is hearing loss, the  inner ear hair cells have become damaged.  This results in reduced sensitivity as well as distortion of signal to the person’s brain.  The brain must work even harder to comprehend the information received from the damaged inner ear which can be mentally exhausting. Each individual hair cell is in charge of translating a specific frequency or pitch. The auditory system loses its ability to translate that frequency when these cells die or are injured, making the brain work harder to comprehend incoming information.

Here are three parts of the brain that process sound:

Temporal lobe – linked to the processing of auditory information and memory encoding. The temporal lobes are also thought to be involved in the processing of language, emotions, and some areas of visual perception.

Broca’s area – its function is speech production.

Wernicke’s area – its function is speech comprehension.

For those who have normal hearing, these parts of the brain make communication appear smooth. However, when there is hearing loss, the brain is forced to concentrate harder than it would be with normal hearing, and these areas become disrupted, causing communication issues and leading to listening fatigue.

They Consider Sounds, Lip Movement, Gestures, etc.

When you put some effort into carefully listening to the conversation, you experience cognitive fatigue. Those who have hearing difficulties use not only the sounds of the conversation but any other gestures, lip movements, facial expressions, and situational awareness to completely understand the conversation. Identifying and comprehending each of these signs requires concentration and can be mentally draining. Furthermore, exhaustion caused by hearing problems may lead to negative emotions including embarrassment, anxiety, unhappiness, and frustration. And emotional, cognitive, and physical fatigue can cause social isolation.

Five Stages of Grief: Depression

People who suffer from any loss, such as hearing, vision, etc. pass through the five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. It’s natural that someone just diagnosed with hearing loss or experiencing social isolation would feel exhausted, as fatigue is one of the indicators of depression. Untreated hearing loss is associated with depression. Another mental state among those who have hearing loss is anxiety. It’s stressful when you think that you won’t be able to hear essential information or respond to it inappropriately. This form of worry can keep a person with hearing loss in a constant state of hypervigilance, resulting in higher adrenaline levels. Overproduction of this stimulant can cause nervous system devastation, leading to tiredness.

Hearing Loss and Daily Fatigue

For many people, listening fatigue is one of the first signs of hearing loss. Because of the way the ears and brain work together to process sounds, listening can create weariness. When you have hearing loss, your brain has to work extra hard to comprehend sound. So, you become fatigued more quickly when listening to a conversation. Hearing aids, on the other hand, can significantly reduce the amount of listening effort required in difficult conditions. Even a two-hour conversation or meeting can make you feel sleepy, exhausted, and tired. You lose your energy on listening to a conversation and then don’t have any strength left inside you to complete other tasks.

When you leave hearing loss untreated, studies have shown the individual will experience fatigue, poor memory recall and less comprehension. Untreated hearing loss has even been shown to cause an increase of falls, and may even lead to an early onset of dementia.

Hearing Aids and Listening Fatigue

Hearing aids help us save energy by making it simpler to hear sounds and speech in a range of situations. The brain spends less energy interpreting the sounds as hearing aids help amplify the soft sounds that are lost because of hearing problems. They also help to improve social relationships and overall quality of life. The majority of hearing aids on the market are equipped with innovative technology that minimizes background noise and increases speech intelligibility.

Ways To Cope With Listening Fatigue

Here are some tips to cope with listening fatigue:

  • Minimize background noise – Background noise muffles speech, making it difficult to understand a conversation. Limit background music, choose quiet places to communicate, and whenever you enter a restaurant or cafe, choose the places that are calm and noiseless. Hearing loss makes it difficult to distinguish conversation from background noise. The less background noise your brain has to comprehend, the more energy you’ll have and the easier it will be to focus on the conversation.
  • Take breaks – Allow yourself a 5 to 10 minute break during the day by turning off your hearing aids. If you don’t have hearing aids, go for a walk in the garden, or simply close your eyes and relax for two minutes. You need to find somewhere quiet to sit and eat your lunch so that it can help you get more energy instead of losing it. If you have hearing aids, take them out every day for a few minutes.
  • Take deep breaths – Whenever you feel overwhelmed or anxious, you need to take some time and do some breathing exercises. Deep breathing can help you relax, clear your mind and lower blood pressure and stress levels.
  • Read instead of watching – Rather than watching television, read. Whenever you are in a place where there is so much noise and sound, you need to relax and help your ears rest by reading a book. Also, you can turn off the sound of your phone by putting it on silent.
  • Take a nap – A 20-30 minute nap can boost your performance.

Whenever you walk along a quiet street and hear the beautiful singing of birds chirping, you feel how amazing life is. People who have difficulties with listening get stressed and overwhelmed during the day. So, whatever you do, sometimes you need to take a break and give a rest to your ears.

We want you to be free from worries and hearing problems. Make an appointment today!