Have you heard of ear fatigue?
Certain groups of people are a lot more likely to experience ear fatigue than others. Could you be at risk?
Tiredness, discomfort, pain and loss of sensitivity are all symptoms you might experience with ear fatigue. The confounding feeling of being wiped out, but, you know you got a good sleep! You might be confused and frustrated by your symptoms if you’ve never heard of the condition before. Ear fatigue is something we often see in people with untreated hearing loss, avid music listeners, and people who work with constant exposure to loud noises e.g. in construction or mining.
People with untreated hearing loss are a lot more likely to suffer from ear fatigue than their peers with normal levels of hearing. Even just one day at work, or a vibrant meeting with several people talking can create a profound ear fatigue effect in someone struggling with hearing loss. This is because the brain is working overtime to interpret and add meaning to the incomplete sentences and sounds the ears are picking up. In fact, three different areas of the brain work together to understand and attribute understanding to speech and sounds. Communication between these parts becomes a struggle and costs a lot of energy when the ears aren’t able to feed in quality content.
If you’re suffering ear fatigue, it’s common that come the end of the day, you might be too worn out to do the things you enjoy. All you want to do is head for the lounge or bed! The condition has been linked to decreased workplace productivity through higher rates of sick days. In kids, ear fatigue is known to affect academic performance and time spent away from school. Unfortunately, kids who regularly experience ear fatigue can find it difficult to keep up with their classmates.
In people with hearing loss, the best way forward is undoubtedly to access treatment. Hearing aids can help regain the sounds and noises you’re missing, so the brain doesn’t have to struggle so hard each day. Modern hearing aids can also come with cool features that enable to to focus in on the sounds you do want to hear – like conversations – while minimising ambient noise. This acts as a further counter to ear fatigue.
As we touched on earlier, you don’t need to have hearing loss to experience ear fatigue. Ear fatigue can occur after prolonged exposure to sound. There is much online discussion on the topic between audiophiles looking for ways to stay on top of ear fatigue! After all, those in the music industry depend on fresh ears! Because ear fatigue can cause a loss of sensitivity, music producers are encouraged to rest their ears for a day before finishing off a track, so they’re not impeded when assessing the final product.
Anyone in a role where music or excessive noise is part and parcel of the work environment should be aware of ear fatigue. Even people who have hearing aids can still experience the condition from time to time. If you find yourself feeling ear fatigue symptoms, some of our tips below can help to hit the refresh button:
- Take short breaks throughout the day, even 5-10 minutes away from your noisy environment can help your ears get a rest.
- Step outside alone for lunch or a walk in a quiet area – don’t take any calls!
- We all like to watch our favourite shows of an evening, but try swapping for a book if you’re finding your ears need a break!
- If your day allows, a power nap is a great way to alleviate ear fatigue symptoms.
- Hearing aid users should switch off their devices and move to a quiet location to rest if experiencing ear fatigue.
If you think you might have hearing loss, come in and see one of our hearing specialists for a free hearing check. You can even book an appointment online. Likewise, if you have questions about ear fatigue, drop in and see us.