By JACOB BURROWS, Au.D.
Have you ever suffered extreme mental fatigue? Perhaps you felt this way after finishing an important examination or task that required intense concentration. It’s like running a marathon in your head—and when you’re finished, you just want to collapse.
A comparable experience develops in those with hearing loss, and it’s referred to as listening fatigue. Those with hearing loss pick up only partial or incomplete sounds, which they then have to make sense out of. With respect to understanding speech, it’s like playing a constant game of crosswords. Those with hearing loss are presented with context and a few sounds and letters, but in many cases they then have to fill in the blanks to decipher what’s being said. Language comprehension, which is supposed to be natural, turns into a problem-solving workout demanding deep concentration.
For example: Wh t wou d ou l ke n t e me u?
You most likely realized that the haphazard assortment of letters above spells “What would you like on the menu?” But you also likely had to stop and contemplate it, filling in the blanks. Just imagine having to read this entire article this way and you’ll have an appreciation for the listening demands placed on those with hearing loss.
Appropriately fit hearing instruments help to “fill in the blanks,” thus avoiding or reducing listening fatigue. Hearing aids help us reduce the amount of energy we spend listening and communicating by making it easier to hear sounds and speech in a variety of environments. Because the hearing aid helps to restore the sounds that are missed with hearing loss, the brain uses less energy understanding it.
Modern day hearing aids now come with features that help reduce listening fatigue by isolating and amplifying the sounds you want to hear and significantly reducing or removing the noises you don’t.
Dr. Jacob Burrows is a Doctor of Audiology with Advanced Hearing and Balance Specialists with offices in St. George, Mesquite and Overton. Call 435-688-8866 for more information.