Overcoming Listening Fatigue

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Listening fatigue

Listening fatigue

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.

How Does Listening Fatigue Happen?

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:

  • Broca’s area for speech production
  • Wernicke’s area for speech comprehension
  • Temporal lobe for managing hearing

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.

Signs And Symptoms

Recognizing that you are experiencing auditory fatigue is crucial. There are several signs and symptoms to be aware of, including the following:

  • Hearing loss
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Talking at a louder volume than usual
  • Shouting
  • Diminished ability to hear mid and high frequencies
  • Tinnitus

How To Handle Listening Fatigue

The welcome news is that there are measures you can take to prevent auditory fatigue or reduce the effects of fatigue already present:

  • Take a break. If you are not a hearing aid wearer, it is essential to rest your ears regularly by taking brief, frequent breaks in a quiet place. If you do wear hearing aids, take them out and relax for a few minutes per day.
  • Breathe. If you are stressed, deep breathing can help. Take a few moments and breath deep to clear your mind, lower your blood pressure, and rest your ears.
  • Eliminate background noise. Deciphering speech from background noise is challenging for a person with hearing loss. By ridding yourself of the background noise, you will put less of a strain on the brain and give yourself more energy.
  • Nap. Just a simple 20 to 30-minute nap can increase your level of alertness and performance. It also gives you quiet, which gives your auditory system a much-needed break.

A Hearing Aid May Be The Answer

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.

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