Hearing Aids Wearers Experience Less Fatigue & Increased Social Activity

Hearing Aids Wearers Experience Less Fatigue & Increased Social Activity

Are you one of the 48 million people who live with hearing loss in the United States? It’s a condition which deserves more attention than many would suspect.  Not only does it complicate everyday conversation with friends, family, and coworkers, but the impact of this impacts everything from our energy levels, our ability to try new things, go new places and stay social! While hearing loss is a permanent condition it can be treated using hearing aids. Not only do they help you hear sounds throughout your day, but a recent study has found that they can reduce exhaustion caused by listening fatigue.

What is Listen Fatigue?

We collect sound with our ears, but the process of hearing is completed in the brain. Sounds reach our brain by way of tiny hairlike cells in our inner ear. Hearing loss occurs when damage occurs to the tiny hairlike cells interrupting some tones, pitches and sounds from reaching the auditory cortex of the brain, where sounds are processed, and speech is interpreted. This permanent damage means that the brain must struggle to fill in missing sounds in words and sentences, adding extra stress. This is not only frustrating as you struggle through conversations at home, with friends and at work, but can be incredibly exhausting. Auditory deprivation can cause you to be extremely tired even after a mild social interaction, leading to chronic listening fatigue. 

Social Isolation Connected to Listening Fatigue

For people who were particularly extroverted before hearing loss, listening fatigue can present the most significant changes to mental and emotional health. Situations with others that used to help you feel recharged and energized, now may make you feel exhausted, and frustrated. This causes many to shy away from social situations whether it’s meeting in a busy restaurant, family gathering, party or even one on one interaction. Over time this can lead to chronic depression, social anxiety, and social isolation. Many people are shocked to find out that this is a more serious risk to our overall health than we may first suspect. Humans are social creatures who gather energy from connection whether it’s sharing ideas, and feeling part of something larger than themselves. Social isolation can cause chronic stress, raising cortisol levels which in turn may cause hypertension. Unchecked loneliness and social isolation and depression may increase the risk of heart disease, heart attack and stroke.

The Cognitive Impact of Self Isolation Due to Hearing Loss

When auditory deprivation sets in over years, the brain normalizes putting the loss of certain sounds. This can put a strain on the brain as it struggles to fill in blanks in words. This strain can impact the brain in several ways. For one thing, when sounds can’t reach the brain, the cells and tissue in the auditory cortex devoted for these specific lost sounds are either rerouted to other cognitive functions or die. This can lead to brain shrinkage overtime and may be one reason why hearing loss significantly increases the risk of developing dementia earlier or at all.  

Another major risk factor for dementia may be social isolation itself. When we socialize, our brain is challenged. Like a muscle, the more we use our brain, the stronger, faster, and more resilient it becomes. As hearing loss goes on for years, particularly untreated, our brain becomes less and less stimulated leaving a door open to significant cognitive decline. In fact, the severity of hearing loss is directly connected to the risk of dementia. For those with a moderate hearing loss the risks are doubled while for those with a moderately severe hearing loss the risk was tripled. Meanwhile for those with a profound hearing loss the risks have been identified as five-fold. 

Addressing Hearing Loss May Lessen Fatigue

While hearing loss is in most cases irreversible, hearing aids may lessen fatigue connected to hearing loss as well as cognitive decline. A recent Scottish study found that those who used hearing aids reported less exhaustion and a greater likelihood to spend social time with friends. The researchers noted that those who used hearing aids regularly reported significantly less listening fatigue, increased social activity and their likelihood to try new things and make new connections increased in comparison to those with hearing loss who did not use hearing aids.

Schedule a Hearing Exam with Us!

Do you suspect you have a hearing loss? The sooner you act the better. Contact us today to schedule a hearing test to enjoy an active lifestyle for years to come!