Listening Fatigue: When Your Ears Don’t Want to Hear It Anymore

listening fatigue

You may be feeling exhausted at the end of the day. More than usual. And certainly, more than you should—you are reasonably healthy after all. It seems like you may be suffering from listening fatigue.

Listening fatigue, also known as ear fatigue or listener fatigue, can happen to anyone who listens to loud sounds for a long period of time. Musicians and construction workers are some examples of people who are at risk. Also, wearing headphones or a headset constantly for work can put you at risk.

What Is It?

Since the brain processes the sounds you hear, listening fatigue is an over stimulus of sounds. When the brain deciphers too many sounds, it becomes tired. But, why is the brain working overtime?

Unfortunately, the exact causes for listening fatigue are still unknown. One theory is that the acoustic pressure from sustained loud noises activates a response in the ear to dampen the sound. As it reactivates over and over your brain starts to tire.

Another theory is damage to the inner ear, though, for your brain to have to work so hard. Probably to the sensory hair cells that translate noise into electric signals to send on to the brain for translations. Because every hair cell is responsible for the translation of specific frequencies or pitches, when some die or are damaged, the brain works harder to fill in the missing spaces.

Finally, sometimes this fatigue is only temporary. Taking a short break and finding somewhere quiet can help. But, when fatigue is longer in length you may need to speak with your doctor about hearing aids. Though your hearing may be perfectly fine otherwise, a hearing aid can alleviate some of the mental exhaustion of trying to decipher all the sounds.

Final Thoughts

Listening fatigue is a very real thing, especially for those professionals who are constantly exposed to loud noises on a daily basis. Although there are no official treatments, yet, if you work in one of these professions where you are exposed to constant noise you should take regular quiet breaks. It will give your brain and ears time to relax.

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