You may be experiencing listening fatigue. It can happen to anyone, but it’s particularly troublesome if you have hearing loss.
What is Listening Fatigue?
Also known as auditory or ear fatigue, this phenomenon is caused by regular exposure to sounds, particularly those over 80 decibels. It’s also considered a symptom of early hearing loss.
Auditory stimuli encounter the hair cells of your inner ear, where they’re changed into electrical signals and sent to your brain for translation. Your brain exerts a significant amount of energy to understand and respond to sound.
When those hair cells are damaged by long-term exposure to loud noises, your brain must work harder to interpret less stimuli. That increased cognitive load results in mental and physical fatigue because you must use more energy to focus on sound localization and lip-reading.
Symptoms of Listening Fatigue
Physical discomfort or pain caused by certain sounds
Increased or loss of sensitivity to sound
Changes in mood
How Hearing Aids Can Help
Wearing hearing aids increases the amount of sound your brain hears. Not only do you hear more, but your brain is receiving clearer input, so it doesn’t have to work as hard to understand auditory cues. You’ll notice a change in mental fatigue when your brain isn’t overcompensating for your hearing loss.
The easier it is to hear, the easier it is for your brain to understand your listening environment. Even if your hair cells have suffered damage caused by prolonged exposure to loud noises, hearing aids help bridge the gap and improve sound quality and volume.
Providing your brain with consistent, quality auditory stimuli also improves your cognitive function. The brain is like a muscle that requires regular exercise to stay in shape, so wearing hearing aids will help your brain’s auditory cortex function properly.
Other Tips to Prevent Listening Fatigue
Identify and manage sound sources: Are you exposed to loud sounds at work? Do you drive through noise construction daily? Be mindful of your listening atmosphere and try to avoid harmful noises. Wear earplugs where and when it’s appropriate, or separate yourself from auditory disturbances by closing your door.
Take a listening break: Remove your earbuds and headphones and give your ears and brain a rest. You shouldn’t listen to music or other audio through headphones for more than 60 minutes at 60% volume.
Maintain a regular sleep schedule: Go to bed at the same time each night and wake up at a consistent hour. Replenishing your mind and body with a good night’s sleep will help mitigate the effects of listening fatigue. Take a short nap during the day if you find yourself feeling tired after a long listening session.
The experts at Audio Help Hearing Centers can address your listening fatigue by finding the right hearing aids to suit your unique needs. Contact us online or call 888-832-9966 to schedule your appointment at our offices in Scarsdale, New York, New York City, New York or Stamford, Connecticut.