Do you ever feel that after a long day of social events and spending time with others can feel exhausting? This can be attributed to many things such as being an introvert. For some people Social interaction can give you energy. This usually indicates that you are an extroverted person. However, for introverts, the same level of social interaction can be draining. For those with an undiagnosed hearing loss, exhaustion from social interaction can be impounded for those introverted and extroverted alike. If you are someone who has loved to connect to others and found energy from it in the past and are now struggling to recharge after a busy and social day, it could signal an undiagnosed hearing loss.

Why Hearing loss Can Be Exhausting

We collect sound with our ears; however, the process of hearing is not completed until sounds reach our brain. Hearing loss often occurs as tiny cells in the inner ear are damaged, limiting the sounds which can reach our brain. This means that there are certain sounds and tones present in all our words and speech that the brain is missing. It leaves a patchwork of holes in the speech we can perceive—leading the brain to be constantly attempting to fill in the blanks in words. 

With a present hearing loss, the brain is required to work harder, leading to mental exhaustion. We normalize being exhausted after physical activity; however, cognitive exhaustion can affect physical well-being, causing a person to feel physically exhausted. However, studies have found that mental exertion activates the prefrontal cortex in our brains causing blood oxygen to lower in the region causing physical exhaustion. As a hearing loss requires a higher cognitive load it can translate into feeling tired just about any time you have a social interaction.

The Risk of Social Isolation

When we struggle to hear and it starts to exhaust us, we are more likely to stay home, avoiding family gatherings, afternoon meet ups and just about any social interaction. We as humans rely on social interactions for our health. Connection gives us a sense of belonging and being a part of something greater than ourselves. Social interaction also challenges our brain, improving mental resilience. Particularly as we age, a healthy social life can mean higher cognitive reserve and a lowered chance of dementia.

Reduce Listening Fatigue with Hearing Aids

While there is no way to reverse most cases of hearing loss it can be addressed with hearing aids. These tiny electronic devices can be programmed to amplify only the sounds and tones you struggle to hear, causing less strain on your mental reserve.

To better understand the impact of hearing loss in the reduction of mental fatigue, a 2011 study by researchers at Vanderbilt University examined 16 adults between the ages of 47-69 years of age with mild to severe hearing loss. The researchers conducted a series of tests with and without hearing aids to determine word recognition, word recall and visual reaction time were tested with and without hearing aids. They found that those who used hearing aids displayed significantly faster word recall, and faster reaction times!

Coping with listening fatigue

Even with normal hearing, we live in a noisy world that can be exhausting at times. Here are some tips to help deal with listening fatigue:

  • Take a break from the noise. If you are starting to feel exhausted from a noisy setting, take a break. Take a quiet walk or turn off the background noises for a while to recharge.
  • Practice deep breathing: If you feel overwhelmed, take some deep breaths. It will increase the oxygen in your body and lower your blood pressure as well
  • Eliminate background noise: when you can turn down the volume. It will make a big difference in your stress levels.
  • Address a Hearing Loss: Have you been feeling more tired than normal recently from social interaction? It could mean it is time to have your hearing tested. If a hearing loss is present, it may mean it is time to explore your options with hearing aids. To find out more, don’t hesitate to reach out to schedule your next exam with us today!