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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.


Around one in six Australians have some form of hearing loss, with this number expected to rise in the next couple of decades. The growing statistic can be put down to an aging population – hearing loss occurs naturally as we age – but many more young people will fall into this category than we’ve seen in the past. This is due to today’s prolific use of technology and how we consume music and other audio forms of entertainment through our smartphone and earbuds. Another common and preventable cause of hearing loss is excessive noise in the workplace. Although many industries are getting better at implementing the right safety policies and procedures, these are only as good as the individual following them!

If we asked a bunch of Australians if they have hearing loss, the number who agree they do would look a lot lower than one in six. This is simply due to the fact that many of us don’t actually know we have a hearing problem! The last person to notice a hearing loss is often the person themselves, as it can be very gradual. It’s a lot more common for your partner, friends and family to notice first, as difficulties arise in communication between you.

Once the issue has been raised, it can then be fear of the unknown that stops some people from getting a professional assessment for their hearing. The average length of time between noticing a hearing problem and seeking treatment is seven years! Unlike the doctor or dentist, a hearing health clinic might not be a place you’ve necessarily been before. But that first step doesn’t have to be the hardest!

What you might not know is that sooner you treat a hearing loss, the better your outcome will be. This is because the brain works like a muscle – it needs constant stimulation to stay healthy. When the brain stops hearing certain sounds, it can actually ‘forget’ how to attribute meaning to them, making communication difficult. Hearing aids as a treatment option can absolutely help your ears and brain to work together again effectively. The sooner they can begin the journey, the better the result. So, don’t delay taking action!

It’s as simple as jumping online and locating a hearing loss specialist near you, and booking an appointment. Or, pick up the phone for a chat.

On the day of your appointment, you’re able to bring your partner or other support person if this makes you feel more comfortable. When you arrive, you’ll meet the hearing specialist who will be looking after you, and you’ll most likely be surprised and delighted in how comfortable an audiology clinic looks and feels – they’re not at all scary!

Your hearing specialist will spend some time with you chatting about why you’ve come in, your lifestyle and what you do for a job, if you work. These are the first bases they need to cover to learn more about your hearing concerns.

Then, it’s on to some tests. Which, are non-invasive and painless! Your hearing specialist will examine your ears using an otoscope, which allows them to gently look inside the ear. You’ve probably had your doctor use one of these if you’ve ever experienced an ear infection.

In a pure tone audiometry test, you’ll listen to a range of sounds, of different pitches and volumes, usually wearing a set of headphones. A speech discrimination test involves a series of words played to you, and you’ll need to repeat or select the one you heard.

Your hearing specialist will share any results with you and explain what they mean. If they can confirm you do have a hearing loss, they’ll be able to discuss the specific type of hearing loss and potential treatments. Each treatment plan will be completely individual to a patient, and can be customised to lifestyle, employment and even budget.

Hearing aids might form part of your hearing specialist’s recommendations, and this can come as a bit of a shock! But today’s hearing aids aren’t the brown banana-looking types you might have seen on your grandparents. Technology has come a long way, and continues to get better, so it might surprise you to know that modern hearing aids come in loads of shapes, colours and styles. There are even styles that sit completely within the ear canal, and are pretty much invisible to anyone else. Please don’t let the fear of ‘looking old’ or ‘standing out’ become a barrier. In fact, you’re more likely to stick out in a group if your hearing loss is untreated!

Your hearing health specialist will be happy to answer any questions you have about hearing aid technology or any other treatment recommendations. It’s worth noting that your hearing concerns could even be as simple as a build-up of wax. But it’s something you won’t know until you pop down to your clinic.

Whatever the outcome, taking action is the best thing you can do. You’ll likely leave your appointment with a smile and breathing a big sigh of relief knowing you’re so much closer to living your best life!

Ready to have your hearing health checked? Find your closest Advanced Hearing Aid Centre clinic here.

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