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Many people leave work after a long day and feel tired. When you have a hearing loss, that tired feeling comes much earlier in the day and is multiplied because of listening fatigue. The strain of trying to decipher everything you hear takes its toll, leaving you exhausted after just a few hours.

What is listening fatigue?

A person with normal hearing doesn’t have to expend much energy to have a quick conversation. Their ears are always working, but they don’t think much about it. For someone with hearing loss even a simple water cooler conversation can involve solving a jigsaw puzzle.

When you have a moderate hearing loss you generally only hear 50% of what is said, so in order to respond appropriately the person with hearing loss had to fill the gaps with a combination of lip reading, context clues and guessing. It’s easy to see why listening fatigue happens, think of the number of conversations you have in a day? That’s a lot of puzzles for you brain to solve. A study by the Danish Institute for Social Research found that 15 percent of people with hearing loss in the workforce experience listening fatigue so intense, by the end of the workday they don’t have the energy for leisure activities.

Effects on work.

It also comes at no surprise that listening fatigue can affect your work. Listening fatigue causes $56 billion in lost productivity in the United State every year, according to a Better Hearing Institute study. When you use excess energy to listen and communicate it takes away from the energy you need to perform the other functions of your job. Listening fatigue and hearing loss has also been blamed for many people exiting the workforce altogether.

Hearing aids help!

There is good news. You can drastically reduce listening fatigue with hearing aids. Listening becomes less of a task and your brain is able to conserve energy for other jobs. Hearing aid manufacturers are constantly working to improve hearing aid technology. Many of today’s hearing aids aim to reduce background noise while isolating and amplifying the sounds you want to hear.

If you are currently wearing hearing aids and still find yourself suffering from listening fatigue, try taking frequent breaks. When you turn off your hearing aids or go someplace quiet you give your ears a chance to recharge. Frequent 5-minutes rests throughout the day can be a major help.