What Is Listening Fatigue And What Can You Do About It?

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Auditory Fatigue aka Listening Fatigue

If you ever experience a momentary reduction in your ability to hear after exposure to sound, then you are experiencing listening fatigue. Listening fatigue, also known as auditory fatigue, is a condition that involves the increased effort one exerts to listen and understand due to untreated sensorineural hearing loss. Straining to hear and understand communication causes the brain to expend excessive energy to compensate for a hearing loss. Taxing the brain in this manner leaves a small amount of power for other functions. As you deplete energy trying to hear words and sentences, you soon find yourself exhausted.

Listening Can Be Exhausting

How does listening exhaust you? Three zones in the brain that connect to your auditory system have the responsibility of helping you interpret sounds and produce speech. There is Broca’s area for speech production, Wernicke’s area for speech comprehension, and the temporal lobe for hearing management.

As a team, these three areas function correctly in the brain of an individual with normal hearing. However, in the brain of an individual with hearing loss, these three areas must now think, work, and concentrate much harder which forces the brain to work relentlessly. Communication becomes a tremendous challenge, and the listener ends up feeling exhausted.

Recognizing Listening Fatigue

Being aware that you are undergoing auditory fatigue is crucial for your hearing health. Signs and symptoms of listening fatigue are numerous and here is a sample of the most common indicators:

  • Hearing loss
  • Speaking at a loud volume
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Shouting
  • Tinnitus
  • Decreased ability to hear mid to high frequencies

Preventing And Reducing The Effects Of Fatigue

If you have auditory fatigue, there is some welcome news. There are measures you can take to reduce or prevent auditory fatigue including:

  • Give yourself a break. Please try to rest your ears by taking frequent, brief pauses in quiet places. If you are a hearing aid wearer, remove them, and relax for a few moments.
  • Deep breathing. Consider pausing to breathe deeply and clear your mind. This pause will lower your blood pressure while resting your ears.
  • Get rid of the background noise. Hearing speech with background noise is a challenge, and for the person with hearing loss, it is almost impossible. Eliminating background noise takes the pressure off of your brain giving you energy.
  • Grab a nap. Momentary naps increase alertness and performance while providing your ears with a break.

Consider A Hearing Aid

If you are having problems with hearing loss and auditory fatigue, schedule a hearing evaluation with a hearing healthcare professional. A hearing healthcare professional can diagnose your problem and provide treatment for you. The care may include a hearing aid. A hearing aid will enhance your listening ability and speech comprehension. The result is a decrease in energy expenditure by your brain and a boost in clarity and volume for you the listener. Please don’t put treatment off. Let a hearing healthcare professional help you live a better life starting today!


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