It’s amazing how our bodies can naturally function without us having to think about it. We breathe and swallow seemingly unconsciously, and our eyes see the world without having to work at it. Another part of this puzzle comes with our hearing, as we are able to distinguish countless sounds the instant they occur. But did you know that in certain situations, your ears can actually get tired and it can create hearing problems down the line?
What Is Audio Fatigue?
Simply put, audio fatigue occurs when your ears are exposed to the same sound or frequency for an elongated period of time. In an effort to protect the inner structures of our ears, like hair follicles and moving parts, our auditory system automatically changes our threshold of hearing.
Termed Temporary Threshold Shift in the medical community, this experience essentially makes it harder for us to hear the same noise we had been previously listening to. As a result, we encounter a form of short-term hearing loss.
On a functional level, this increased instance of loud noise can create permanent damage to the hair follicles in our ear, which decreases the ability of our brain to interpret sounds. Our ears also automatically restrict blood flow to this area, thus making it even harder to hear.
Is It Dangerous?
Audio fatigue can be a concern if it occurs regularly. Infrequent exposure to loud repeated noises might not be something to be worried about, but in certain professions or recreational environments, this experience can be harmful.
Permanent Threshold Shift can occur if TTS happens regularly, and like the name states, it doesn’t go away. In this instance, individuals with PTS might find they need assistance from hearing aids in order to regain their quality of life.
Indicators To Be Aware Of
If you start to experience any of the following symptoms, it might be a sign that audio fatigue is present for you:
- Your hearing seems diminished or muffled
- There is a ringing or buzzing sound in your ears
- You have a difficult time hearing sounds at certain frequencies
How To Prevent Temporary Threshold Shift
Your ears require preventative maintenance just like other parts of your body. If you are frequently exposed to loud noises, it might be smart to get a regular check-up from your hearing healthcare provider. We maintain our teeth and general health, so why wouldn’t we take the same approach with our ears?
For individuals who have predictable exposure to loud and repetitive sounds, ear protection is crucial toward maintaining the longevity of your hearing. Utilizing protective devices like ear plugs, earmolds, or custom earmuffs can help to protect the delicate inner structures of your ears and reduce your tendency to develop audio fatigue.
Audio fatigue is certainly a condition to be aware of, and it if happens, be sure to take preventative measures in the future. If you’re concerned that you have possibly created permanent damage, don’t hesitate to contact our office today to schedule a complete hearing evaluation.