Life can be tiring, especially with hearing loss.

What is hearing loss exhaustion?

Hearing loss exhaustion can also be referred to as listening fatigue. Most people would say we hear with our ears but really we hear with our ears AND our brains. This “team” of our ears working with our brain happens seamlessly and without much thought for an individual with hearing in the normal range. For someone with some type of hearing loss, the lack of information the ears give the brain causes the brain to have to work much harder. Hearing loss requires more energy to hear sounds and speech and be able to process and understand it all.

Signs of hearing loss exhaustion:

  • Headaches
  • Physically tired
  • No motivation
  • Irritability
  • Nervousness
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Isolation and/or Depression

When the brain is working harder on a mental task, signs of exhaustion can be seen as a result. Remember back to a time or task that required rigorous concentration, like taking a test or learning something new. After such time, you may have felt exhausted or at least fatigued by it. Hearing is a sense that is used throughout our whole day and can make every interaction feel like a mental strain. Extra energy can be used in trying to use lip reading and body language cues. Your brain will also have to continue to make guesses in trying to fill in the gaps. The brain works harder on trying to ignore background noise and listen in on what is important. You have to stay attentive throughout rather than being able to relax and enjoy. Even people with normal hearing may notice listening fatigue in difficult listening situations because their brain has to work harder too.

What Happens Next?

When hearing loss affects someone to the point of hearing loss exhaustion, many physical and mental consequences occur including:

  • Feeling “drained” or overworked or just sleepy
  • Increased stress and/or anxiety
  • Difficulty performing other tasks at work
  • Difficulty being active with family members at home
  • Fatigue that you otherwise can’t explain
  • Averting certain situations that you know will be mentally taxing
  • Social isolation or becoming inactive in things you would normally enjoy
  • Frustration, agitation or even confusion

What Can You Do?

Here are some helpful ideas to help lesson hearing loss exhaustion:

  • Give yourself a break
  • Eliminate background noise and interruptions
  • Try a quiet activity, like reading instead of watching TV
  • Take a walk
  • Take a nap
  • Record and transcribe important communication. If you know a situation will be taxing on your hearing or that the information is important, record it. This will put less stress on you while in that particular situation knowing that you will have a recording to playback again if needed for support.
  • Have your hearing loss diagnosed by an audiologist and follow their recommendations for amplification ie hearing aid technology.

How do hearing aids help?

Hearing aids can ease the burden on the brain by helping the ears to deliver the message. Hearing aids amplify sounds that you are not able to hear making communication much easier. You, and even the person you are listening to, will have an easier time conversing. Hearing aids are able to help you hear with less repeating, lip reading, raising of voices and overall energy. Depending on the level of technology in a chosen hearing aid, there may be some features that will help even more than just amplifying the sounds around you. Modern hearing aids can also help to isolate and reduce background noise and enhance speech sounds. These features can be very helpful over the phone as well. In fact, most hearing aids are capable of streaming directly from cell phones with Bluetooth right into the hearing aids for a much clearer sound and better quality of speech.
Having this technology just might help approach your daily activities with more energy. Hearing aids have also been shown to help friends, family and colleagues reconnect better than they have while trying to work through a hearing loss.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact any of our seven locations.