Do conversations leave you feeling fatigued, or do you find yourself straining to hear over the din of ambient noise? You may suffer from listening fatigue, especially if you have untreated hearing loss.
What Is Listening Fatigue?
Listening fatigue is physical and mental exhaustion caused by the brain’s overexertion to interpret sound. Your brain relies on the tiny hair cells in your ears to send audio signals to the temporal lobes.
When those hair cells are damaged by noise exposure, the brain must work extra hard to interpret sounds sent from fewer hair cells. This effort can leave you feeling tired.
Listening Fatigue And Temporal Lobes
The temporal lobes are located behind your ears. Wernicke’s Area is in the left, analytical temporal lobe and is responsible for interpreting language. Broca’s Area is Wernicke’s counterpart in the right temporal lobe and works simultaneously to produce speech.
The stress created by attempting to follow conversations creates adrenaline that can lead to listening fatigue. Fatigue also disrupts the process of sound interpretation and speech production.
How To Combat Listening Fatigue
Take a break from noise: Finding time each day to take a break from outside noise, conversations, and music is beneficial for your ears and your peace of mind. Earplugs will also help give you some quiet in perpetually noisy places.
Get more oxygen to your brain: Better oxygen means better brain function. Take 3-5 minutes throughout the day to take deep breaths or schedule time to practice meditation or yoga.
Find quiet, well-lit places to meet: Carrying on conversations will be much easier in bright, quiet rooms so you can lip-read and interpret facial cues. You also won’t have to worry about competing with background noise.
Visit the audiologist: Untreated hearing loss can cause listening fatigue. Getting a hearing evaluation can determine your degree of hearing loss, and hearing aids can help your brain interpret sounds you’ve been missing.