Austin residents with hearing loss experience a wide range of side effects, including exhaustion. This often leaves them with no energy for social activities; because withdrawal and isolation can lead to anxiety, depression and dementia, getting a handle on the physical and mental exhaustion caused by a hearing impairment is important for your long-term health.
Your Brain Works Hard to Help You Hear
To understand why hearing loss can leave you feeling exhausted, it’s important to realize just how hard your brain works to help you hear. Your ears collect sounds from the environment and funnel them to your inner ear, where sensory cells convert noise into electrical impulses that are transmitted along the auditory nerve to the brain. Each of these tiny hair cells is responsible for translating a specific frequency. Your brain is responsible for “decoding” these signals into meaningful sound; when the hair cell is too damaged to translate that particular frequency, your brain works harder to make sense of the signal. This increased effort leads to a condition called listening fatigue. You may feel tired or uncomfortable and experience a decrease in sensitivity.
In order to overcome listening fatigue, your Austin audiologist recommends the following strategies:
- Take a nap. If you’re able to do so, a quick nap – even 15-20 minutes – can leave you feeling refreshed and more alert. Don’t exceed 30 minutes, however; sleeping longer than this during the day can affect your ability to get a good night’s rest.
- Take a walk. A brisk walk outdoors can do wonders for your mental and physical health. Aim for 10-15 solitary minutes without distractions such as music or cellphones.
- Take quiet breaks during the day. It isn’t always possible to grab a nap or take a stroll outdoors; at the very least, take a quiet break every few hours or so to give your ears (and brain) a rest. Turn off the TV or music and reach for a book instead.
- Try deep breathing exercises. Quiet meditation or deep breathing exercises will help keep you focused and relaxed, eliminating stress and providing you with a much-needed mental boost.
- Remove your hearing aids. It’s important to wear your hearing aids every day in order to improve your ability to hear, but it’s equally helpful to remove them occasionally. The peace and quiet will give your brain the equivalent of a “power nap.”
Hearing Aids Can Combat Fatigue
Your Austin audiologist recommends wearing hearing aids to help reduce the effects of listening fatigue. Vanderbilt University researches conducted a 2011 study of 16 adults aged 47-69 with mild to severe sensorineural hearing loss to learn what effect hearing aids had on their listening effort and mental fatigue. Subjects were administered a series of word recognition, word recall and visual reaction tests both with and without hearing aids. Their scores were consistently better when they wore hearing aids.
If you suffer from hearing loss and frequently feel tired or overwhelmed, help is available. Make an appointment with a Austin hearing specialist to learn about solutions that will help you feel more energetic and alert.