Your day to day activities and responsibilities are enough to test anyone’s composure as patience can wear thin, especially when exhausted. Unfortunately for the 48 million Americans with hearing loss, attempting to listen throughout the day can leave them more tired than their hearing counterparts. This is due to listening fatigue, a condition caused by untreated sensorineural hearing loss that can have you yawning throughout the day, even when in good health.
What Is Listening Fatigue?
Listening Fatigue is a phenomenon caused by exerting more effort than usual to hear and understand auditory information that is sent to the brain, causing you to become mentally and physically fatigued. As a result of damaged sensory cells due to hearing loss, the auditory system loses the ability to translate sounds into electrical signals, causing your brain to work harder and less efficiently when processing incoming information. This can affect your quality of life and even your paycheck, as hearing loss is projected to waste $56 billion per year in the United States as a result of lost productivity at work, often attributed to fatigue when enduring hearing loss. When hearing is healthy, the sensory hair cells inside your ear perform their duties as they are supposed to, giving those who are hard of hearing a clear disadvantage while attempting to hear, a process that is often unnoticeable to those with normal hearing.
Coping With Listening Fatigue
Though hearing damage cannot be reversed, there are methods to help endure and avoid the exhaustion caused by listening fatigue.
Reducing constant exposure to sounds is a great way to give your brain a break from processing information. Consider taking a break from noisy environments for somewhere more relaxing and secluded, or replace music and television with reading. This is especially important when addressing environments with a lot of background noise, as your brain can find difficulty in discerning the sound you’re attempting to focus on and the background noise around you, overwhelming the brain and stressing you out.
Getting your recommended nightly amount of sleep is another way to cope with listening fatigue and exhaustion in general. Studies indicate that chronic sleep loss takes a toll on your health, reducing your alertness, increasing irritability and depression, and depressing brain function. Even quick naps have been shown to improve health and alertness throughout the day, giving your brain a much-needed break.
Better Health, Better Hearing, Less Fatigue
Reducing the difficulty you encounter with hearing loss is crucial to reducing listening fatigue throughout your daily life. Protecting yourself from further damage will stop you from worsening your condition and exerting even more energy than you already do, while hearing aids can help those who already experience hearing loss by helping you and your brain listen to and process sounds in a simpler and more efficient way. Striving for better hearing health may not just make you more alert, but it may prevent serious health complications. Studies link hearing loss to dementia, anxiety, and even depression, making hearing health a serious priority.
If you find yourself exhausted after lengthy conversations or noisy environments, it may be time to speak to a health care provider or licensed audiologist about listening fatigue and the potential solutions that are best suited for your lifestyle.