This week, Super Kena got her FM system for pre-school. Basically, that means her hearing aids are corresponding with a microphone around the teacher’s neck so the sound goes right into her ears. The poor girl has been exhausted this week and I’m guessing that has a lot to do with it. For example, we all know how hard it is to be at a wedding reception with a loud band and try to have a conversation with someone. You think you might’ve heard what they said but you aren’t completely sure you caught it all. Or your friend answers you in a quiet voice and you are straining to put together what she could have said or meant. What we experience then is what hard of hearing people call listening fatigue. This occurs after prolonged exposure to an auditory stimulus. Some symptoms can be tiredness, discomfort, pain, or even headaches.
I’ve never really thought about it before but you never stop listening. I’ve been doing some reading on listening fatigue and found that it takes three areas of your brain to connect with your auditory system to help interpret sound and produce speech. These three areas work well together for a normal listener. But because the hard of hearing person has to concentrate harder, it disrupts the teamwork of the three and makes it much more challenging.
Now my granddaughter is very social, she loves music and going to hockey games. She loves people and for this I’m grateful. I hope that even when she gets older and the background noise becomes more apparent that she’ll still be able to manage the listening fatigue. I think for anyone with a hearing loss, myself included, that background noise should be kept to a minimum level if you’re trying to have conversations. Last year, I had my hearing tested because I feel like I’m losing some of my hearing and was told I, too have a mild loss. For one of my ears, I just didn’t hear certain sounds and with the other ear, I could hear the sound but couldn’t distinguish what was being said. It’s frustrating at times and I know our tv volume gets put up quite a bit because of me. I’ve had tinnitus (ringing in the ears) for many years and I think it definitely plays a part in my hearing loss. Many rock stars have tinnitus mostly because of all the abuse their ears have taken being around way too loud concerts. I didn’t get mine from loud concerts, that I know. I’m not really sure why I have it but some of the medicines I’ve taken for my fibromyalgia pain could have contributed to the ringing. I saw in a magazine that someone is selling a tinnitus gadget that plays at night in your room, the same sound of what you are hearing in your head. The purpose is to make your brain not “hear” it anymore and cancel each other out. It’s tempting to see if it’d work but it might drive my husband a little crazy in the meantime!
Many people don’t have the challenge of hearing loss. But if you know someone with hearing aids and they seem to “check out” in loud situations, let’s be more understanding and patient with them as they struggle to decipher our words. A little kindness can go a long way, right?
Peace and love,
(this is my new name from Kena, an upgrade from the usual Baba)
It’s getting closer to Grandma, though! 😊