Ever considered that poor hearing causes fatigue?

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Many people with a hearing loss say they can hear someone speaking but can’t make out WHAT they are saying. Speech is unclear, and the situation becomes worse in noisy places. Trying to listen and make sense of what is being said in these situations is often exhausting for an individual with a hearing loss.

Why is listening so exhausting?

It takes a lot of  energy to fill in the hearing gaps, process the information and make sense of that information puzzle. Working hard to follow the conversation in a social situation, for instance, can really drain your energy and lead to exhaustion.

The pathway from the ear to the auditory cortex in your brain is a long one, and along the way, several factors are at play which affects us all differently – therefore, hearing is personal.

The auditory system is made up of limbic system and the autonomic nervous system.

The Limbic System

Our limbic system processes emotional reactions to sounds, determining them as pleasant or unpleasant. Consider this:

•          Do you respond differently to certain types of music?

•          Do you smile when happy birthday is being sung (especially the Stevie Wonder version)?

•          Do you flinch when you hear the screech of tyres braking on the road or shudder at fingernails down a chalkboard? 

The Autonomic Nervous System

Our autonomic nervous system controls our “fight or flight” response. It’s what wakes us to a creaking floorboard in the dead of night.

All these systems are at work when you listen, consistently filling in the gaps and working to keep you safe, connected to your environment and in touch with what is going on around you.

A hearing loss of any kind requires significantly more energy to fill in these gaps, thus making it considerably more tiring, and even frustrating at times.

However, the brain does an amazing job in adapting to a hearing loss and aids in filling in the gaps using a process called neuroplasticity.

What does Neuroplasticity have to do with hearing?

As it turns out, a lot!

Neuroplasticity is the brain's ability to reorganise itself by forming new neural connections that compensate for damage to normal function, such as when there is a hearing loss. These new connections improve your capacity to process information, like speech information, and help to increase your ‘working memory’.

Working memory is required for lots of functions, hearing included. It allows for more automatic, effortless listening and reduces the amount of attention or focus required to participate in a conversation. So, more working memory means you have more automatic hearing, even in difficult situations like in noisy restaurants.

This is where hearing technology comes in

By stimulating the brain with tailored sound from quality hearing technology, the brain can make new neural connections and expand working memory, so that you will experience more automatic, effortless hearing. Expert help can turn things around with tiny, even invisible, technology that delivers what you need, when.  Nice!

And if I don’t?

If you don’t stimulate the brain to allow it to do what it naturally wants to do -  like process sound and speech effectively -  the cold hard truth is it’s a matter of ‘use It or lose It’. Your capacity to process sounds diminishes over time, so starting sooner than later retains more of your natural cognitive capacity. Give us a call on 03 7012 9076 to discuss. The first expert consult is complimentary.

RL Deane