January 22, 2020

How Can Hearing Loss Make You Really Tired?

How Can Hearing Loss Make You Really Tired?

If you find yourself more tired than usual, it could be because of hearing loss. Impairment to hearing can happen to anyone and often happens very gradually. This means that changes to your ability to hear could be missed or overlooked. One of the many symptoms of hearing loss is fatigue. The sense of hearing is more than simply hearing sound. It also involves interpreting and making meaning of sound. This greatly impacts your ability to understand and fully navigate everything around you. If you are experiencing hearing loss, your capacity to do this is weakened.Hearing requires the movement of sound from the outer ear to the inner ear. In the inner ear, sound waves are translated to neural signals for the brain to interpret. When a person is experiencing hearing loss, the brain is forced to work overtime to try to understand the information it is receiving from the inner ear. Just how much energy is needed to hear?

How does hearing work?

The sense of hearing is a dynamic process that involves the full use of our ears, which are sensitive and intricate organs. The ear can be divided into three parts:

  • Outer Ear: this is the part o the ear that is most visible (also called the auricle or pinna). Its primary function is to gather as many sound waves from the environment as possible. This sound then travels down the ear canal and lands on the eardrum. The eardrum is a thin membrane that connects the middle and inner ear. Sound collected by the outer ear cause the eardrum to move or vibrate.
  • Middle Ear: the middle ear is behind the eardrum and is comprised of three bones (also called the auditory ossicles and are some of the smallest bones in the human body), which work to amplify sound. The moving eardrum causes these bones to vibrate, moving the sound further into the ear.
  • Inner Ear: the cochlear is a spiral structure located in the temporal bone of the inner ear and is filled with liquid and a membrane that is covered with hair cells. It plays a critical role in the sense of hearing because it translates the sound waves to neural signals interpreted by the brain. The vibration of the bones in the middle ear, motion the fluid in the cochlear. The movement of this fluid and the hair cells send electric signals to the hearing nerve in the brain. This then allows the brain to interpret these electric impulses as sound.

This complex process allows us to receive sound and attach meaning to that sound. If there is any damage or injury to one of these delicate bones and/or structures, the brain expends more energy trying to understand incoming auditory information. This can often lead to stress and exhaustion.

Hearing Fatigue

As described above, hearing requires lots of energy! Hearing loss often causes people to work harder in an attempt to fully hear. This can look like:

  • Reading mouths (rather than making eye contact) to hear distinct words
  • Hearing partial sentences and trying to make sense of them
  • Concentrating and being attentive for long periods of time
  • Serious focus on how to respond to sentences and conversations that you have only partially heard
  • Frequently asking others to speak loudly, slowly, or clearly
  • Needing others to repeat what they have just said to you
  • Having to listen to any speech more than one time
  • Difficulty following conversations with multiple people or in places with background noise

Trying to process partial information and make meaning out of it is demands so much more energy and can lead to exhaustion and frustration. As you expend more and more energy trying to hear, your ability to do other things (such as fulfilling work responsibilities or home tasks) can be impacted. You may even find yourself wanting to engage less, avoiding social gatherings, and noisy environments. This can really impact your overall mental and emotional health.

Atlanta Hearing Doctor

Hearing loss is treatable! The most common way is hearing aids, which can effectively provide you with better hearing. The best way to find out if you are experiencing hearing loss is to schedule an appointment with us at Atlanta Hearing Doctor for a hearing assessment.

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The Benefits of Being Social for Older Americans
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The Benefits of Being Social for Older Americans

Take a moment to recall the last time you were part of a social activity. What are some of your memories? Not all social activities are happy and relaxing, but there’s one that that they tend to have in common: connection. When we engage in social activities we are reminded of the ways we are connected to those in our families, friendships, and communities. However, for those who haven’t had a social activity in a while, this lack of connection can be a key problem. Rather than focusing on the detriments of a lack of social activity for seniors, let’s focus on the positive benefits that seniors can receive from more social activity. Not only do they take the form of direct benefits such as feelings of connection, they also have indirect effects on your mental and physical health. After considering the wide range of benefits to be achieved from these social connections, let’s imagine the many ways it is possible to expand the range of connections.

Mental Health and Social Life

When we are connected to others, a number of effects take place in our mental health. In the first place, we are generally reminded that others share our experiences. These reminders put us in the mental space to acknowledge that we are not alone. Similarly, social connections can relieve feelings of anxiety. When we are isolated our heads can spin into feelings of confusion, fear, and mixed expectations. Being with others can be grounding, serving as a reminder of how much others are going through. Finally, social life can improve symptoms of depression. Although it can feel like the most difficult thing to socialize when we are depressed, it can have a profound positive effect on depressive symptoms to spend a little time with others.

The Physical Benefits of Social Activity

It might come as a surprise, but there are physical benefits to social activity, as well. In the first place, simply getting out of the house introduces physical activity into our daily routines. Moving through the world to social events can be remarkably beneficial for our energy levels and mobility. In addition to this direct physical effect of social life, there are other more surprising connections, including reduced risk for Alzheimer’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis, some forms of cancer, osteoporosis, and cardiovascular problems. Add to the list that nutrition is often improved when we eat with others in social contexts. These social benefits in the realm of physical health lead us to believe that we stand to gain more that feelings of connection when we are actively social.

How to Improve Your Social Life

If you are a senior who finds your social life dwindling, there are some basic steps you can take to get connected. One of the simplest things you can do is to reconnect with old friends and family members with whom you’ve lost touch. Take a quick scroll through your address book or calendar from past years. You are likely to find people listed there with whom you can connect, and you’ll be surprised how easy it can be to pick up and reconnect. Simply making a call is all it may take before you have a new lunch date or are even planning a trip with someone. Sometimes more casual connections are all it takes to feel like your social life has improved. Clubs are a great resource for these kinds of connections, and there are many organizations oriented around your favorite activities and hobbies. If you like crafts, mechanics, or political affairs, simply do a little digging and a club or organization is sure to turn up. Finally, physical activity is an excellent way to integrate all these benefits into a single activity. Take, for instance, an exercise class. With regular attendance, you are sure to reap the physical, emotional, and directly social benefits that have proven effects. When taken in combination, you will be surprised at how good you feel, and the connections tend to multiply. Why hesitate to take action toward stronger social activities? You will not regret it when you feel the support of a strong community around you once again.

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Common Excuses for Not Buying Hearing Aids
November 16, 2022

Common Excuses for Not Buying Hearing Aids

If you suspect that your loved one is developing hearing loss, you have likely already heard one or a combination of these excuses for refusing to seek assistance. Often these excuses work in concert with one another, and the struggle to convince a family member or loved one can require logical cartwheels. Knowing some of the most common excuses can help you understand where your loved one is coming from and also to encourage solutions rather than living with limitations.

My Hearing Isn’t That Bad

Perhaps the most common response when confronted with hearing loss is the claim that hearing isn’t that bad and that a person can make do without assistance. Although many people satisfice in the context of limited hearing ability, why continue to struggle with limitations when assistance options are available? The only way to know how bad hearing ability has become is to get a hearing exam by a licensed professional. With this information in hand, you will have a sense not only how your hearing measures up to population averages but also how much you can hear relative to your own starting point.

I’m Getting Along Fine

The partner of the first excuse is the idea that a person can get along fine without hearing aids. Although some people are able to find remarkable work-arounds to complete their daily tasks, there are serious health effects associated with untreated hearing loss. Not only can hearing limitations create a physical risk, they can also lead to mental health problems, emotional burdens, and even cognitive strain. Your loved one might feel like the situation is sufficient, but just imagine how much better life might be with adequate hearing ability. Conversations can be restored to a fluid back-and-forth, information can travel freely, and the stress of not knowing if you will be able to communicate in a given situation can be relieved.

Hearing Aids Are Too Expensive

It is true that hearing aids are a serious investment in your wellbeing, but there are often solutions to make them more affordable. Some forms of insurance cover all or part of the purchase of hearing aids, and other financing options are available, as well. The bigger question might be one of priorities. Knowing that hearing assistance can restore relationships, conversations, and relieve mental anxieties, your loved one might be undervaluing their own health and wellbeing.

Hearing Aids Are Frustrating to Use

In the past, hearing aids were nascent technology with lots of bugs to work out. You may have seen someone struggling with hearing aids, trying to adjust the volume levels or cancel out squealing feedback. Others in the past found that manual dexterity issues or arthritis got in the way of inserting or removing aids. The new features of hearing aids make it possible to remedy many of these frustrating aspects in the past. Some hearing aids are connected to smartphone apps that allow you to easily change volume levels, even setting profiles for different locations or types of events. The latest hearing aids come in all shapes and sizes, making it much easier to deal with them comfortably.

Hearing Aids Don’t Work

Maybe your loved one knows someone who had a bad experience with hearing aids. Perhaps this person was unhappy with the amount of assistance received or the trouble that came along with the aids. Although hearing aids don’t promise 100% success for all users, their effectiveness is improving rapidly, and most people with hearing loss find a powerful improvement to their daily lives. The only way to know if they will give you the assistance you seek is to give hearing aids a try.Don’t let one or more of these excuses get in the way of solutions. If your loved one is hesitant to get hearing aids for these or other reasons, perhaps the first step is the simplest. Getting a hearing test is easy, quick, and painless, so why not make an appointment right away. There is no harm in understanding your current hearing ability, and this baseline exam can be helpful to track future hearing ability, as well. If you discover a need for hearing aids, your hearing health professional can assist you in taking the next steps.

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