Do you feel worn out at the end of your day? If you live with untreated hearing loss, there’s a good chance that your hearing challenges are impacting your energy. Many people are surprised to learn that their exhaustion and low energy are linked to hearing loss. That’s because you don’t feel the heavy lifting your hearing does via sore muscles or even breaking a sweat. Instead, untreated hearing loss drains you mentally. You probably won’t feel any aches or pains with the strain hearing loss places on your body, but the evidence will be there in the form of low energy and fatigue.
Keeping Up With Hearing Loss
When you live with unaddressed hearing loss, you set your brain up for a gauntlet of challenges. Most hearing loss is based on permanent damage that has happened to tiny and delicate sensory cells in the inner ear. These “hair cells” are responsible for picking up the precise vibrations of sound waves and transmitting that information to the brain where it is interpreted into meaning. The more hair cells that are out of commission, the harder it will be to perceive sounds accurately. Incoming speech and sound may seem muffled or faint or even be missed entirely.
While your ears are receiving incomplete information, your brain’s auditory cortex has to scramble to decipher the meaning of the partial sounds you are hearing. This is almost like trying to complete a crossword puzzle without all of the clues – it can be frustrating or nearly impossible to fill in the blanks, and it takes more mental effort and time. Trying to keep up with speech while dealing with hearing loss can often sap your energy as a large percentage of your mental focus and exertion goes towards interpreting sound.
Hearing Loss and Cognitive Energy
The way the brain processes sound when your hearing is undamaged is nearly effortless and instantaneous. Our hearing is streamlined by familiar pathways and patterns in the auditory cortex, the area of the brain primarily used for processing incoming sound. Hearing loss throws a wrench in the gears. It may be no longer possible for the brain to recognize sound patterns or use shortcuts to interpret sound quicker. Hearing loss disrupts the learned hearing patterns of the mind, making hearing less efficient.
Additionally, the task of making meaning may require repurposing mental focus away from other cognitive tasks. One of the most serious effects of this is the link between hearing loss and falling accidents. The risk of falling injuries for older adults increases significantly when untreated hearing loss is present. This is because cognitive concentration that would regularly be used for maintaining balance and coordination is instead used to compensate for hearing loss.
The strain on cognitive resources and attention may also explain the link between untreated hearing loss and dementia. Studies have shown that the cognitive burden of hearing loss exacerbates dementia when it is left untreated.
Treating Hearing Loss
Hearing loss combined with fatigue can hold you back and keep you down. Struggling to hear and maintain your physical energy can affect your performance at work or at school, limit your time with friends and family and keep you from doing activities you love. However, tiredness and hearing limitations don’t have to get in your way. Treating hearing loss is a discreet and effective way to manage hearing challenges and mitigate harmful related conditions like fatigue and exhaustion.
If you have had a diagnosis of hearing loss, you may have been disheartened to learn that most hearing loss is permanent and cannot be repaired. Permanent hearing loss isn’t the end of the story though. There is good news: hearing loss can be treated effectively through the use of hearing aids and assistive devices. Treating hearing loss makes hearing easier and decreases the strain it places on your mental energy. By facilitating better hearing, your mental patterns can rebalance themselves and give you more energy and mental flexibility.
Is fatigue a factor in your life? Fatigue linked to hearing loss can be greatly relieved when you opt for treatment. Hearing aids give you access to a fuller palette of sound, amplifying sound frequencies you struggle with. The result is more immediate clarity with your hearing and an easier time keeping up with your daily life.