Hearing Loss & Fatigue

In hearing loss, Tips & Tricks by Laurie Duffy, M.S.

Laurie Duffy, M.S.

Laurie Duffy, M.S. has been a licensed audiologist for over 30 years. After working for many years for non-profit rehabilitation agencies and other audiology practices, she established her own practice in 1999.
Laurie Duffy, M.S.

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It’s a wonder how our bodies naturally function as if we are operating on autopilot at times.  It’s a complete gift when we can breathe and blink almost unconsciously and our arms and legs move in the manner we wish. Hearing of course play a major contribution to our bodies normal functioning which alerts of noises we need to be aware of for our protection, and of course allows us to communicate with other humans.

When our hearing is not functioning properly it can also cause extreme exhaustion, and all sorts of problems in further down the line. This extreme exhaustion is often referred to as listener’s fatigue.

What is Listener’s Fatigue?

Listening fatigue is something that can happen to anyone after listening to any noise whether it is music, television, industrial machinery or daily conversation.  Any noise can become exhausting after being exposed to it for a long time. Listening requires effort and energy, and for individuals with even a small hearing impairment, those efforts are magnified and become more taxing on our brain. The greater hearing loss we have, the more likely we are to become exhausted.

Causes of Listener’s Fatigue

Causes of Listeners fatigue are vast as this industrial world we live in is rich and full of sound. 

Loudness

is typically the number one culprit when it comes to listener fatigue, which is why people who work in consistently loud environments will often suffer from listener’s fatigue. Overexposure to one particular frequency range for too long can cause serious fatigue.

Headphones

Wearing headphones is a mechanism to aid in privacy and to avoid idle chatter; however, there is evidence that wearing headphones can be very dangerous for your ears. Because the headphones are so close to your eardrums, they can cause stress to your auditory system and contribute to hearing damage. Because of the digital nature and high-tech batteries of personal listening devices, they can play longer than ever before. The longevity that we subject our ears to can be a major cause of listener’s fatigue.

Radio

Radio music has both musical and non-musical elements that are called sonic artifacts. When the music and these non-musical traits mix, they can become unbalanced which makes the artifacts more uncomfortably prominent for us and we will tend to be less focused on the music. This added static could unconsciously stress us out over a long period of time.

Sensory Overload

When exposed to a multitude of sounds from several different sources, sensory overload may occur. This overstimulation can result in general fatigue and loss of sensation in the ear.

The ear’s anatomy

Excessive vibrations that occur in the inner ear can result in structural damage that will affect hearing. There are tiny hair cells in the inner ear that can become subjected to bending from loud noises. Because they are not regeneratable, any major damage or loss of these hair cells leads to permanent hearing impairment and other hearing-related diseases.

Risks

Listener’s fatigue can happen to anyone, but when someone is struggling with untreated hearing loss this experience can become more exasperated.  One of the major reasons is because when you are suffering from hearing loss the brain has to work harder to create connections.  Most people seldom just listen, but also multitask, whether it is at work or doing chores or crafts at home.  When you are struggling with hearing loss it becomes much more of a challenge to multi-task as your brain has to work double time to process information.  This exhaustion from listening can often make people suffering from hearing loss withdraw and become depressed.

How to Overcome Fatigue

It is important to take breaks from all the noise around us during our day because exposure time can be one of the major culprits of listener’s fatigue. If you are suffering from hearing loss, using a hearing aid will lessen the stress of listening and communication. Hearing aids can improve your hearing ability, supporting your brain in the listening process. Hearing aids can help isolate the sounds you want to hear and reduce environmental noises.

If you are experiencing changes in your hearing, consider taking a hearing test. At Hear Care, we provide comprehensive hearing health services. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.