Dr. Cynthia L. Ellison, Au.D
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Life may be exhausting from time to time, but hearing loss takes fatigue to a whole new level. Have you been getting home from work feeling completely drained? Are you way more tired than usual? If life at the office doesn’t seem more strenuous than usual, hearing loss could be making you more tired.

What is Listening Fatigue?

If you’ve been feeling exhausted at the end of the day, you may be experiencing listening fatigue. The fact is that hearing requires a lot of energy. All the sound waves around you travel down your ear canal, and reach your inner ear. The cells in your inner ear convert sound waves into electrical impulses and send them to the brain, where your brain interprets these impulses as sound.

When you have hearing loss, the signals sent to your brain are incomplete. Cell damage in the ears means your ears aren’t able to hear all the sounds around you. Your brain has to fill in the blanks to make sense of all the sounds, determine where sounds are coming from, and try to follow conversations when some of the sounds are missing.

With hearing loss it’s difficult to make sense of all the sounds around you, and your brain works overtime to help you hear. This can be exhausting, and often leads to fatigue and physical exhaustion.

Hearing Aids will Reduce Listening Fatigue

The best way to deal with listening fatigue and get your energy back is by treating your hearing loss. Hearing aids are designed to help your ears hear more of the sounds around you. This improves listening, and makes it easier to follow conversations. Your ears can interpret more of the sounds in your environment, and send more complete signals to the brain. The auditory centers in the brain will be able to interpret the sounds easily, and you won’t feel so tired at the end of each day.

Hearing aids will also help you maintain your health and wellbeing. People living with untreated hearing loss are more likely to develop dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, and listening fatigue can take a toll on the brain.

Other Ways to Reduce Listening Fatigue

Along with wearing hearing aids, there are a few things you can do to reduce listening fatigue. Learn to listen to your body, and when you start to feel tired, do one of these things to reduce listening fatigue:

  • Take a few deep breaths: If you’re feeling overwhelmed by all the sounds around you, take a few deep breaths and focus on the inhalation and the exhalation. You can try breathing in over 4 counts and breathing out over 4 counts. Deep breathing can calm your mind, reduce stress, and relieve fatigue. Even a couple of minutes can reduce listening fatigue, and help you get through the day without feeling exhausted.
  • Leave the noise: If you’re in a noisy environment and you’re starting to feel exhausted, take a break and leave the noise. Step outside for a break, go for a short walk, or simply find a quiet room where you can spend a few minutes in silence. Find a quiet bench outside where you can eat your lunch, or choose to read rather than turning on the TV. Taking a break from the noise will help you relax, relieve the tension of straining to hear, and give your brain a moment to rest. 
  • Turn off the background noise: To reduce fatigue, turn off the background noise. If you’re in the habit of working with the radio or TV on in the background, try switching it off. All this extra sound will lead to more listening fatigue, and you’ll be more tired at the end of the day. Giving your brain a break from the background noise will make it easier to focus on your work, and easily follow conversations with coworkers.
  • Have a 15-minute nap: A quick power nap can be a great way to combat listening fatigue. A short nap can help your brain relax, and take a short break. This will improve your focus and concentration, and reduce fatigue. Avoid having long naps, since this will make it harder to fall asleep at night.

If you have listening fatigue, follow these tips to reduce fatigue, then schedule a hearing test to find out how hearing aids can make it easy to hear.