How Can Hearing Loss Affect Your Energy?

You may know people who have boundless energy morning to night, even accomplishing many more tasks in a day than the average person. You yourself may feel that it is difficult to endure a night out with friends or a long meeting at work without feeling physically exhausted afterwards. If you have hearing loss, the reason for this is called “listening fatigue.”

Does Hearing Loss Make You Tired?

When suffering from hearing loss, it is much more difficult to listen and interpret language for long periods of time. People without hearing loss may never realize how much effort and energy just listening to others can expend. If you feel mentally and physically exhausted after interacting with others for long periods of time, you may be suffering from listening fatigue. And this fatigue doesn’t only affect you personally: it was estimated by the Better Hearing Institute that hearing loss and hearing fatigue may be responsible for more than $56 billion wasted annually due to lost productivity at work caused by hearing fatigue.

Many people who suffer from hearing fatigue become frustrated with their work situations and may even quit their jobs as a result. And even if they continue working, listening fatigue can affect them so they have little energy to pursue any fun or relaxing activities outside of work.

Why Hearing Loss is Tiring

When suffering from hearing loss, it becomes important to be on constant alert, straining to listen for sounds that would otherwise be effortless to hear, as well as engaging the mind in lip reading and other visual cues. It becomes mentally draining.

Three areas of the brain deal with interpersonal communication and listening throughout the day: the area for speech production, for speech comprehension, and to manage hearing. Without hearing loss, these areas of the brain work together for almost effortless hearing and comprehension, but with hearing loss it becomes more difficult and thus more tiring.

Hearing Aids to the Rescue

If you are suffering from hearing loss and hearing fatigue as a result, hearing aids can assist you by restoring the sounds that are missed by your ears, thus giving your brain a rest and making communication and understanding less difficult.

Tips to Reduce Listening Fatigue

If you find yourself exhausted from normal interactions during the day and suspect hearing fatigue, be sure to get a hearing test to see if hearing aids can bring you some relief. Other things you can do to minimize fatigue is to give yourself a break: go somewhere quiet for a few minutes to just relax and breathe. Go outside or just close your eyes and allow yourself to shut out the world for a few minutes. Also try to minimize interruptions and background noises during certain times of the day if possible. Take a quick nap or read a little bit to give your ears a break from their work during the day.

At California Hearing Center we want to help you to be your best self. Give us a call to schedule a hearing screening today. 

88 N San Mateo Dr. San Mateo, CA 94401  (650) 342-9449

Could There be a Link Between Hearing Loss and Dementia?

As we age, most of us expect to experience some hearing loss. It is considered a normal part of aging, and other than hindered communication and minor annoyance, is not seen as a major health issue. More and more studies, however, are linking hearing loss with mental decline and dementia, which is increasing concern over this “minor” consequence of aging.

One study that involved more than 2000 people found that people with hearing loss had a decline in cognitive abilities 30-40% faster than those who didn’t. Another study involving 600 people showed that people with hearing loss were more likely to develop dementia than those without it. Further, people who had severe hearing loss were more likely to develop dementia than those with only mild or moderate hearing loss.  Testing and further studies have also found increased and quicker rates of brain atrophy in people with impaired hearing in comparison with people without impairment. In participants over 60 years of age, the risk of dementia was increased by 36% when hearing loss was a factor.

Hearing loss is not only a risk factor for dementia, but also seems to worsen the symptoms, including diminished memory, failure to learn new tasks, irritability, fatigue, anxiety, reduced awareness and depression, in addition to diminished overall health. In light of these findings, studies are currently underway to determine the effectiveness of hearing aids and other devices to halt or slow this mental decline.

Because hearing loss can progress slowly, annual hearing screenings are crucial. We may not notice these gradual changes in hearing ability on our own until damage is done.

Here at California Hearing Center we are committed to your hearing health. Call us today to set up an appointment for a hearing screening.

Gene Therapy May be the Answer to Hearing Loss

One billion people throughout the world are at risk of experiencing hearing loss at some point in their lives. Scientists have therefore been working to find solutions to this growing problem. Hearing aids and cochlear implants have seen rapid improvements and advances in technology, but they still merely mimic the hearing process, and don’t cure it. Complaints such as tinny or robotic-sounding voices and diminished enjoyment of music are urging another way to restore hearing.

Progressive hearing loss is most often caused by the loss of hair cells in the inner ear that allow us to detect sound. Some bird and fish species are able to re-grow these cells, but humans cannot. It then follows that if humans could regrow these hair cells, hearing could be restored naturally.

Novartis, a Swedish pharmaceutical company, recently sponsored a set of clinical trials to test an inner-ear hair cell regrowth technique on human subjects. When conducting preliminary trials on mice, researchers were successful in restoring partial hearing. The trials are still ongoing, but the eight participants have already begun noticing improvement in their hearing abilities.

Atoh1 is the gene that triggers hair cell growth in the inner ear. Scientists have focused on this gene, which is “turned off” after the cells finish growing, even before birth. Scientists hope to use gene manipulation to “turn back on” these genes and promote this hair cell growth once again. They implant the gene into a cold virus and implant it into the eardrum using a laser and syringe.

Though participants have seen some improvement in hearing, total restoration has proven elusive. Scientists hope that this method may provide enough improvement that patients can then use hearing aids to further improve speech comprehension and other hearing abilities.

Scientists are also working to identify other genes that also play a role in this cell growth progression, and hope that eventually they may develop more advanced techniques for hearing restoration. Whereas this procedure is aimed at hearing loss caused by very loud sounds or drug toxicity, there is more research underway to find treatments for genetic hearing loss as well.

The approach is to introduce a DNA sequence that will help a “broken” gene to work again. Malfunctioning sensory cells are responsible for the hearing loss, and it is hoped that those cells can be made functional again.

This exciting new field of research may soon be able to reverse hearing damage and loss, but until then, prevention is key. Come in for a hearing test today and learn the best ways to protect your hearing health.