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Tired of Not Hearing Well? All About Hearing and Fatigue

Time to Read: 7 minutes

Brain power is exhausting. And when your hearing is not optimised, your brain is working harder than it needs to try to make sense of the sounds your ears are hearing.

Hearing fatigue can happen in a number of different ways.

  • Pre-existing hearing loss
  • Getting used to wearing hearing aids and experiencing the return of lost frequencies
  • Listening to music or sound at high volumes for extended periods of time

Don’t be fooled - your hearing loss may be minor, but the effect on your stamina is just as draining as severe hearing loss.

Depositphotos_168583208_xl-2015Brain Power

The brain actually uses three parts to hear:

  • Broca’s area for speech production,
  • Wernicke’s area for speech comprehension, and
  • the temporal lobe to manage hearing.

For people without hearing loss, these three parts work cohesively and that allows someone to listen with less effort. For an individual with hearing loss, there is a disruption in this hearing process. The brain has to “work, think, and concentrate harder than with normal hearing…increasing the challenges of communication and leading to listening fatigue”

But there is good news! There is a growing body of research that shows wearing hearing aids can help reduce the fatigue. It also comes with the additional benefit of helping you enjoy more out of your life.

Many people report feeling tired after getting hearing aids for the first time as their brains get used to hearing sounds they’ve been missing. The fatigue only lasts for a short time and the benefits are tremendous.

We have some great tips here on how to get used to wearing hearing aids.

Here's how to manage fatigue

Hearing aid manufacturer Starkey has some great tips about how to manage fatigue:

  1. Give yourself a break — When you find yourself straining from listening in a social or work environment, take a short break to relax and let your mind rest from the rigors of listening. Stepping away, tuning out with noise cancelling headphones to reduce overstimulation, and even a short nap are all methods to de-stress and invigorate alertness. Turn your ears off and take a break from the audio action whenever possible.
  1. Meditate — Meditation and locating that calm inside can quiet the stress of effortful listening associated with hearing loss. Meditation is becoming a popular tool for mental and physical wellness. It’s free, can be practiced anywhere, and even a short 5-minute meditation has demonstrated benefit.
  1. Record and transcribe — For those with hearing loss, listening-intensive endeavors like meetings and course work can cause stress from the fear of missing important details.  However there are Smartphone apps that can stream directly to hearing aids, or transcribe dictation via voice recognition technology such as technology found at www.speechtexter.com.
  1. Work smarter, not harder — Speaking of hearing aids, they’re a terrific solution. Work with a hearing professional to take advantage of their expertise and find the best hearing aid or assistive technology for your needs and lifestyle. Struggling through the workday and leaving yourself no energy to enjoy life is working harder not smarter. Hearing aid and assistive technology is available to greatly enhance your life and reduce the strain that listening and concentrating brings to the hearing impaired. Much of today’s hearing aid technology uses digital processing designed to recognize and suppress noise in the environment which can lead to less effortful listening.

Hearing Professionals Also Seek Sound Advice

Sound engineer working in recording studio.

Even people who work with sound for a living - such as DJs, music recording engineers can suffer hearing fatigue by listening to music at high volume through closed headphones.

Professional sound engineers should keep the amount of time you spend at louder listening levels to a minimum. They are advised to turn the volume only for a short amount of time to make adjustments, then lower the volume.

It’s vitally important to check your work at different listening levels and with different monitoring systems as much as you are able to. This will help to keep your physical hearing mechanism from adjusting too quickly to one listening situation, and will keep your mental focus active. Remember, sameness is the enemy to efficient mixing!