Listening fatigue, also identified as auditory fatigue, is a temporary reduction in the ability to hear after exposure to sound. The loss of sensitivity is due to excessive auditory stimulation. This loss of energy due to hearing loss creates difficulty at work or with activities at home. The brain expends excessive energy to compensate for hearing loss. Because of this compensation, not much energy is available for other functions. The strength to construct meaning from half-heard words and sentences depletes a person, and auditory exhaustion soon follows.
So how does listening make you tired? There are three zones of the brain that connect to the auditory system and help you interpret sounds and produce speech:
If an individual has normal hearing, these three areas function well as a team. Communication is no problem. However, for a person with hearing loss, the brain must think, work, and concentrate harder. The harmony of the three brain areas is disrupted, making communication a challenge and resulting in listener fatigue.
Recognizing that you are experiencing auditory fatigue is crucial. There are several signs and symptoms to be aware of, including the following:
The welcome news is that there are measures you can take to prevent auditory fatigue or reduce the effects of fatigue already present:
A hearing aid significantly improves listening ability and speech comprehension. Because of this boost in volume and clarity, listening fatigue decreases. A study sought to find out what effect hearing aids have on listening effort and fatigue. The study participants’ word recognition, word recall, and visual reaction time were put to the test using hearing aids and not using hearing aids. Not surprisingly, word recall and reaction times were better with hearing aids than without. If you suspect a hearing loss, now is the time to schedule a hearing evaluation with a hearing healthcare professional who can treat your hearing loss and lessen auditory fatigue.