Work and social life can be hard on your health, but if you feel more tired at the end of the day than you think you should, even if you’re otherwise healthy, you might want to check your hearing. You may be tired of listening and understanding because of sensorineural hearing loss that hasn’t been treated. This could be making it harder for you to hear and understand.
The brain and the process of hearing
We might not think about how the brain affects our hearing right away, but it is a vital part of hearing, understanding, and speaking.
Hair cells in the inner ear turn the sound waves the outer ear picked up into electrical signals sent to the brain along the auditory nerve. Each hair cell is in charge of changing the pitch or frequency of a sound. They can’t be fixed if they get hurt or die, so the brain has to work harder to figure out what to do with the information it’s getting. When hearing is normal, three parts of the brain work together with the auditory system to translate sounds and make speech:
- The temporal lobe is behind your ears and goes to each side of your brain. It helps turn information from the senses into sound signals that can be stored and used for language comprehension.
- Wernicke’s area is a part of the brain on the left side of the temporal lobe. It is essential for language development and is in charge of understanding speech.
- Broca’s area is in the lower left part of the frontal lobe. It is involved in making speech. When people have trouble hearing, their brains must work harder to fill in the missing information. This is why your ears get tired.
What hearing aids can do for you
Depending on the hearing loss, hearing aids can help reduce hearing fatigue by making it easier to listen to and understand speech.
Vanderbilt University did a study in 2011 on 16 adults with moderate to advanced sensorineural hearing loss who were 47 to 69 years old. Over an hour, changes in word recognition, word recall, and visual reaction times, with and without hearing aids were used to measure mental fatigue. The goal was to determine how well hearing aids work in listening effort and mental fatigue.
The study found that when people listened without help, their reaction times got slower as the experiment continued. This is consistent with mental fatigue. But there was no sign of mental fatigue when the study used hearing aids.
How to prevent listening fatigue in your life
Everyday interactions with family, friends, and coworkers can be fun, productive, and enjoyable. They can also be loud and often have a lot of background noise that your brain has to work hard to block out. Here are some ways to avoid getting tired of listening:
Sound off: Find ways to escape the noise around you every day. If you don’t have hearing aids, take a quiet walk, find a quiet place, or meditate. Also, a great way to turn off the sound is to read a book instead of watching TV.
Reduce background noise: Choose a quieter place to talk, like a quieter part of your favorite restaurant or noise-canceling headphones on a flight. The better you feel, the less noise your brain has to sort through.
Use hearing aids: Hearing aids can help fill in the gaps left by different kinds of hearing loss that make it hard to hear. If you think you might need a hearing aid, it’s always a good idea to make an appointment with a hearing professional.
Better hearing health keeps you from getting tired.
The Hearing Loss Association of America says that about 48 million people in the United States have hearing loss. Hearing loss that isn’t treated can cause social anxiety and depression and put you at risk for dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, and depression.
If you’ve been having trouble hearing but don’t know what to do, you might want to make an appointment with us today. Hearing aids have advanced features that help with many kinds of hearing loss that can make it hard to hear. Get in touch to find out more about your options and put your mind at ease.