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Hearing loss often presents unexpected challenges and living with hearing loss may mean you have to adapt your everyday routines to better serve your hearing. Living with hearing loss often requires extra attention when it comes to navigating new spaces, participating at school or work, driving and even leisure activities like hanging out with friends. It isn’t surprising that hearing loss can lead to fatigue and exhaustion. If hearing loss is part of your life, it is important to make space to rest and recharge so you don’t end up feeling drained.
Hearing sound doesn’t feel like hard work in the same way that moving heavy boxes or doing push ups will make your muscles sore – but that doesn’t mean it isn’t causing strain in your body. When you live with hearing loss, much of the physical burden is cognitive.
Hearing loss, especially when left untreated, requires extra effort from our mind when it comes to interpreting sound. Most permanent hearing loss is caused by damage to the fine “hair cells” in the inner ear which detect the vibrations of sound waves in the air and convert them into an electrical signal sent to the brain. The brain completes the act of hearing by interpreting meaning from the sounds. Early in our life, familiar sounds help build auditory pathways which act as shortcuts to discerning meaning from sound and speech.
Hearing loss interrupts the ingrained process of hearing. When hair cells are damaged, they are no longer able to relay sound signals to the brain. When the brain receives incomplete or unrecognizable sound information it has to work much harder to discern the meaning. For starters, hearing loss thwarts the shortcuts the brain has established, so it takes us longer to interpret sound. Like filling in the blank spaces in a word puzzle, the mind requires extra concentration to deduce meaning.
While the auditory functions of the brain are in overdrive like this, they pull focus and energy away from other cognitive tasks. This can be as basic as detracting from our ability to balance and coordinate our movements, but it can also make it harder to think abstractly. All in all, hearing loss requires far more from your brain than it is balanced for which can make keeping up with your hearing feel exhausting.
If you live with hearing loss it is important to see when it may be impacting your energy level. If you feel fatigued at the end of a long day at work or school, hearing loss may be part of the reason. It is important to take care of your total health and rest your body when you feel tired, and know when breaks will help you get through your day.
Make time in your schedule for silence. Naps and meditation are both good options for short rest periods where you don’t have to focus on listening and your whole body can relax. Put some downtime into your schedule -an hour right after your work day or a mid-day break- where you simply recharge in a quiet spot.
For your busiest days, plan your schedule strategically when possible. Try to break up difficult listening environments with a break in-between, like scheduling a meeting in the morning when you know you’ll be having dinner with friends in the evening, or separating difficult classes by a few hours to let your mind rest between periods of focus.
Resting will be a huge part of managing fatigue related to hearing loss, and using hearing aids is another great way to curtail the strain hearing loss puts on your mind and body. Hearing aids effectively help you hear a wider range of sounds and are specially programmed to meet your hearing challenges. Hearing aid use has been shown to reduce cognitive stress and improve speech comprehension.
Using hearing aids often opens up new possibilities for those living with hearing challenges. Our team has seen what a difference hearing aids can make, firsthand. Hearing aids help you keep up and stay engaged and by reducing cognitive strain, they have the potential to improve your energy. Ready to find hearing solutions designed for your needs? Contact us today!