After gathering with friends and family for the recent holidays, you might have noticed that you felt exhausted after speaking with everyone for a long time. Everyone can experience listening fatigue, where constant stimulation like a long Zoom meeting, noisy restaurant, or family gathering leaves your brain feeling like it needs a break!
However, people with hearing loss can experience listening fatigue in a shorter amount of time and with fewer stimuli. If you are experiencing listening fatigue consistently, it can be an early symptom of hearing loss and have you searching for an “audiologist near me” to get a hearing test.
The connection between hearing loss and listening fatigue
While ears get a lot of credit for hearing, the brain also plays a large role in our ability to hear. Sounds and signals are picked up from the outer ear and sent to the sensory hairs in the inner ear which our brain then picks up and translates into sound. However, this system gets more complicated when someone has hearing loss. When the hair cells responsible for certain pitches or frequencies are dead or damaged, the brain has to work even harder to make sense of the incomplete information it receives from the inner ear.
With hearing loss, you have to allocate more cognitive resources towards trying to figure out what is being said. This leaves less brain power for other tasks like visual processing or memory rehearsal, impacting communication skills and more.
Listening fatigue symptoms
The main symptom of listening fatigue is, well, fatigue. Feeling tired and drained due to the extra energy someone exerts just having a conversation. After a day of talking and processing, someone might feel too exhausted to do the things they like or want to do.
Some other symptoms of listening fatigue have to do with increased sensitivity to sounds. Some noises may cause you discomfort over time, or some repetitive noises can be blocked out and not heard.
Dealing with listening fatigue
Wearing hearing aids: After you have done the initial research of finding an “audiologist near me” and getting a hearing test if you have hearing loss, you will be fitted with a hearing aid. Wearing your hearing aids can give your brain a break from overworking, you’ll hear better and feel less tired.
Take a break: After being encompassed in noise and conversation, one of the best things you can do is take a break. Find somewhere quiet you can go to take some deep breaths, close your eyes, and revel in the silence. If you need a longer break, try reading a book instead of watching a movie, or even taking a nap.
Eliminate background noise: Background noise is just more stimulus that your brain has to process during conversations, and can make listening fatigue set in sooner rather than later. When you limit background noise or get rid of it altogether, the less taxing it is to follow conversations.
If your hearing isn’t as good as it used to be, and you experience listening fatigue, it’s time to have your hearing evaluated by a professional. If you are searching for an “audiologist near me,” come and see Dr. Nikki and Dr. Noel at Active Hearing Health! They can help you to Hear Now, Stay Active, and Live Better!