TRAINING YOUR HEARING: A MARATHON, NOT A SPRINT

If you have hearing loss, it’s a good idea to take positive steps to avoid further hearing damage. Here are five “workouts” to help strengthen your hearing skills.

Regular Exercise

Staying active all day long will help to keep blood circulating, which provides benefits to all areas of your body, including your ears.

Even light exercise is great, just as long as you do some of it every day. You can jog, cycle, or walk. Even stretching exercises like yoga and Pilates can qualify. And if you do a lot of gardening or housework—you know that can get your heart pumping as well!

Just remember, if you exercise to the tune of music, try to keep the volume low, especially when using ear buds. Noise-induced hearing loss is the most common type, and music is a repeat offender.

Stretching

Did you know that deep breathing and stretching exercises like in yoga can also help improve hearing?

We hear all the time that yoga has a lot of health benefits, and it can strengthen hearing by increasing blood flow to your ears, among other areas. Deep breathing and stretching are a light exertion and count as exercise!  

Where there is increased blood flow your body can also detoxify effectively, which can improve nerve function. All of these factors are positive and can help maintain healthy hearing.

Puzzles and Games

If I asked you which organ plays the biggest role in your hearing, you might say your ears, but you would be wrong! Your brain is the powerhouse when it comes to hearing and listening comprehension. Your ears are like sound funnels: they carry the sound in, but your brain translates and makes those sounds understandable to you. Therefore whatever you do to exercise your brain will positively impact your hearing skills too.

The brain needs exercise just as much as the rest of your body does! Games, riddles and puzzles like crossword puzzles, Sudoku and word searches are not only fun, they also serve as brain exercises which combats atrophy. Atrophy is known as demntia when it begins to not only affect your hearing but your mental capacity and reasoning abilities.

Pretty much any game counts here: social games like poker, bingo and hearts are a workout for your brain while being a fun activity with friends.

Practice Focus

You can find hearing exercises online or from your audiologist as well. These exercises are meant to improve your hearing capabilities and give you good practice at distinguishing sounds.

Here’s an exercise to try that can help you focus and train your hearing in an environment with a lot of distracting background noise:

Turn your TV or radio on so you can hear it clearly. Next turn on music or another competing noise. Have someone else walk around the room you are in, reading sentences from newspaper or a book. With your eyes closed, repeat the sentences back, and picture where they are in the room. This exercise in concentration can help you a lot with focus in an environment with a lot of background noise.  

Concentrate

Here’s one more exercise that you can do when you are alone almost anywhere. If you are at a park or a restaurant or anywhere else, close your eyes and open your ears. Pick out the noises around you. Recognize the sound and pinpoint its location. This exercise will help you to interpret sounds and focus in environments where there is a lot of background noise.  

Your physician or audiologist will be happy to do annual hearing evaluations with you to detect changes in hearing ability much more quickly than you could notice it yourself. The earlier hearing loss is detected the better. Devices and exercises can work to stop the progression of hearing damage so it doesn’t worsen.

Here at California Hearing Center we are committed to your hearing health. Call us today to set up an appointment for a hearing screening. We can discuss hearing aid options with you and work with you to find one that fits your budget.

IS TWO ALWAYS BETTER THAN ONE?

When you were diagnosed with hearing loss, was one ear affected more than the other? This can often be the case, and because hearing aids can be expensive, it can be tempting to use just one hearing aid instead of two. But is that a good idea?

The Ears Work Together

Because they are all we can see, we may think that our hearing is done mainly by our two ears, but that isn’t true. Our brains are even more important to hearing and understanding the world around us, and our brains are connected to our ears through auditory nerves. Our brains are the heavyweights, translating noises we hear into sound that means something. Who knew our hearing was so complex? Or that a problem with any one component in the auditory system can cause hearing as a whole to break down.

Even if they are not equally damaged, hearing loss in one ear is quite often accompanied by damage in the other ear as well. Wearing a hearing device on only one side can backfire, because it will support one ear and not the other. The ear that is being helped will probably not decline any further, but the unassisted one might.

Hearing Exercises

Our bodies need regular exercise—without it, our muscles will atrophy and wither away. Regular exercise is important—and this is also true for our brains and our ears. With the progression of hearing loss, sounds can sometimes be heard but not understood. This can be very frustrating and may be the result of a “bad connection” along the auditory nerve between the ears and the brain. Doing “hearing exercises” can slow this progression and help your brain to “re-learn” how to interpret sounds meaningfully.

Your audiologist can give you exercises and other options that could help.

Hearing Well

One way to support good listening comprehension is to make sure your ears are hearing equally. Auditory stimulation is increased, and your brain can work less to understand the noises your ears bring in. Therefore, for any hearing damage and you want the most seamless, effortless listening experience possible, you should wear two hearing aids instead of just one.

Wearing two hearing aids can also save on battery life over wearing just one, on top of being more effective overall. It may also give you the opportunity to wear more discreet (smaller) hearing devices because of the lower power requirements of each hearing aid.

Triangulation

Our ears are fine-tuned to help us not only hear and understand the world around us, but to determine from which direction sound is coming. This can come in handy when we are in danger: we don’t want to run towards something that will hurt us, so we need to know where it is coming from! When both ears hear equally, you can better pinpoint the source of the noise around you. This ability, called “localization” is practical in everyday life, and also necessary for protection. Lopsided hearing makes localization much more difficult.

Wearing hearing aids instead of one are generally happier and more content with their hearing experience, because two hearing aids can reestablish hearing much more efficiently than one. Hearing, listening and understanding depend on more than just our ears, so the more help they have the better.

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

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