Chances are, if you took a poll of Arizona residents, most people in Scottsdale would say the ears are responsible for hearing. They do serve a purpose, of course – your glasses would constantly fall off without them! In reality, the brain does most of the hard work in helping you hear. This helps explain why people with hearing loss in Scottsdale are likely to experience what is known as listening fatigue.
The Brain & Hearing
As if the brain didn’t have enough to do already, it plays a crucial role in our ability to hear. The sensory hair cells in the cochlea translate noise into electrical signals and transmit those to the brain for interpretation. Each hair cell is responsible for translating a specific frequency. When damaged, the hair cells can no longer translate particular frequencies, making the brain work harder to process information. This leads to listening fatigue and mental exhaustion.
The following tips can help you cope with listening fatigue, making you feel more mentally alert:
- Take a quiet break. We are surrounded by noise throughout our busy days. Taking a break by finding a quiet place to relax can help. Take a walk through the woods or visit the library on your lunch hour. Read a book instead of turning on the television. If you wear hearing aids, remove them for a few minutes every day.
- Breathe in, breathe out. If you are feeling overwhelmed, stressed or frustrated, try deep breathing exercises. They will help clear your mind while reducing stress and lowering your blood pressure.
- Eliminate background noise. Hearing loss makes it difficult to distinguish speech from background noise. The less background distraction, the easier it will be for your brain to process sound and follow conversations. This will help you feel more energetic.
- Take a nap. Experts at the National Sleep Foundation say a brief nap – 20-30 minutes is sufficient – will help improve mental alertness and performance without leaving you feeling groggy or preventing good nighttime sleep.
Benefits of Hearing Aids
Your Scottsdale audiologist believes the best way to prevent listening fatigue and exhaustion is by wearing hearing aids. Researchers at Vanderbilt University looked at 16 adults aged 47-69 who were experiencing mild to severe sensorineural hearing loss to examine the effect hearing aids would have on their listening effort and mental fatigue. Their word recognition, word recall and visual reaction times were tested with and without hearing aids. The results, published in a 2011 study, found that participants with hearing aids experienced better word recall and faster reaction times than those who did not wear hearing aids.
Reducing listening fatigue and mental exhaustion will go a long way toward improving your overall quality of life. If you are experiencing these signs and haven’t had your hearing tested, schedule an appointment with an audiologist in Scottsdale. Untreated hearing loss has been linked with many negative health effects, not just listening fatigue; the sooner it is treated, the better you will feel.