A lot of people with hearing loss go through what's known as listening fatigue or listener fatigue at some point. It's when you get mentally, physically, and emotionally drained from straining to hear. This fatigue often shows up as an early sign of hearing loss and tends to occur more often as hearing loss gets worse. People with hearing loss often need to take breaks during conversations and in noisy places to let their brain recover.
Hearing loss makes your brain work extra hard to hear and understand. It can make it tough to keep up in conversations, follow TV shows, or communicate well in noisy places. As a result, many people with hearing loss feel the effects of listening fatigue, like feeling tired, having trouble focusing, being more stressed, or experiencing changes in mood.
Keep in mind that listening fatigue typically doesn't happen without hearing loss. If you're dealing with listening fatigue, chances are you have some level of hearing loss.
The brain's sound-processing system has three key components: the temporal lobe, Wernicke's area, and Broca's area. Let's take a quick look at each one.
Sound begins its journey by entering the outer ear and traveling through the ear canal to reach the eardrum. As incoming sound waves make the eardrum vibrate, this energy is transferred to the middle ear. In the middle ear, tiny bones work their magic, transforming these vibrations into mechanical energy, which then travels to the inner ear.
Inside the inner ear, this mechanical energy sets tiny hair cells into motion, generating electrical signals. These signals are carried by the auditory nerve to the brain, where they're decoded and recognised as sound. That's when the auditory message is processed and understood.
Dealing with listening fatigue? There are ways to handle it. Check out these strategies to help you manage fatigue when it strikes.
Regardless of the circumstances, deep breathing is a useful way to centre yourself, reduce stress, and even lower your heart rate. Listener fatigue can bring on stress, and noisy surroundings can make the mental strain even worse. So, if you're starting to feel anxious or frustrated because of listening fatigue, take a moment to close your eyes and practice some deep breathing.
Here's how to do it effectively: inhale slowly through your nose, allowing your chest and abdomen to rise as you fill your lungs. Hold your breath for a second, and then exhale slowly through your mouth.
Brushing it off or just toughing it out can only worsen your listening fatigue. Hearing aids are a great way to deal with this condition, as they can reduce the effort you need to put into hearing, listening, and understanding what people are saying. This can go a long way in reducing your listening fatigue.
If you visit a hearing care professional at the Amplifon clinic nearest to you, they can help you get the right hearing aid to resolve that unwanted listening fatigue and help you hear properly.