Hearing Aid Wearers Experience Less Fatigue & Increased Social Activity

Hearing Aid Wearers Experience Less Fatigue & Increased Social Activity

In Hearing Aids, Mental Health by Dr. Jason Leyendecker

Dr. Jason Leyendecker
Latest posts by Dr. Jason Leyendecker (see all)

Not only is hearing loss frustrating but can be a very exhausting condition. For the estimated 48 million people in the United States affected by hearing loss, not only do they suffer from devastating communication issues, but the need to strain to fill in the blanks in conversation. No wonder, people with unaddressed hearing loss complain of fatigue!

If you’ve recently been feeling more drained from social interaction than before, it could be a sign of hearing loss. This condition often sneaks up on people as damage occurs gradually over many years. While the brain normalizes the loss of certain sounds, it can be difficult to trace your energy levels to an impairment in hearing. However, studies show that those who treat their hearing loss with hearing aids report less fatigue and increased social activity.

How We Hear

We collect sound with our ears; however, the process is not completed until sound reaches the brain. We achieve this in an amazing way. Sound travels as waves or vibrations which are harnessed by the eardrum and the tiniest bones in our body—three bones called the ossicles. The next step for sound is entering the cochlea—a snail shaped tiny organ filled with fluid. Within the cochlea are tiny hairlike cells called stereocilia. As the vibrations of sound stimulate the liquid within the cochlea, they signal the stereocilia to transform sound waves into electrical impulses which can be interpreted by the brain.

Understanding Listening Fatigue

The most common type of hearing loss is called sensorineural, meaning it occurs when damage occurs to the stereocilia. This can limit the amount of sound from the ears to the brain. Depending on the degree of hearing loss, it can block certain sounds, tones and pitches. Even at early stages parts of words are difficult to hear. You may not realize it’s happening. Instead your brain is working overtime to fill in the missing consonants such as “f”, “s” and “h”. This may be the reason you feel drained after even a simple social interaction which used to fill you up with energy, inspiration and life.

Listening Fatigue and Loneliness

When communication is strained due to an unaddressed hearing loss it can be difficult to connect with the people in our lives. The frustration that comes with hearing loss often doesn’t seem worth the stress and exhaustion of putting yourself in social situations which used to give you energy and inspiration.

We as humans are social creatures. It may seem frivolous to be a social butterfly, but in truth connection between loved ones is what gives us a sense of belonging, comradery and connecting to something larger than ourselves. The epidemic of loneliness in the United States had begun well before the COVID 19 pandemic. Due to issues such as more time online and transportation issues has made it harder to connect than in the past. With more and more people working from home, it’s harder to get out and connect. Studies show that loneliness can lead to chronic stress, hypertension, and heart attack. In fact, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that “social isolation significantly increased a person’s risk of premature death from all causes, a risk that may rival those of smoking, obesity, and physical inactivity. Social isolation was associated with about a 50% increased risk of dementia.”

Exploring the Connection Between Hearing Aid Use and Decreased Listening Fatigue.

While there is no cure for hearing loss, it can be treated effectively with hearing aids. These amazing digital devices are becoming smaller, and more powerful than ever before, allowing you to hear with ease in all sorts of situations again. However, of those who could benefit from using hearing aids, 12 to 69, only 16 percent have ever tried them! For an older generation more at risk for hearing loss 70 and older, only 30 percent have attempted to treat their hearing loss! 

In a recent study from Scotland, researchers noted that participants who used hearing aids to treat their hearing loss reported feeling less tired and spending more time being social with friends. Not only did participants report significantly less fatigue but in increased social activity. This in turn allowed people to be more active, try new things and increased cognitive health.

Schedule a Hearing Consultation Today!

Do you feel more tired than normal—it could be a hearing loss! Contact us today to schedule a hearing exam and find out what we can do to keep you energized and engaged for years to come!