Whatever condition caused your deafness, people may not see a reason for it on the surface. You may look fine but believe it or not, it takes a lot of energy to listen all day. Now try doing it out of one ear. Things that binaural people take for granted, like localizing sound or trying to differentiate sound among other noises, becomes a real chore for SSD sufferers. Not only do we get tired but we also might get a little frustrated and lets be honest, irritable. Throw in a head cold or a sinus / ear infection and well…..you get the picture.
With a few strategies and careful planning you should be able to manage listener fatigue so it doesn’t get the better of you.
I know it sounds obvious but if you were like me, I first didn’t understand what was going on. I asked myself, why am I so tired and irritable. What I didn’t realize was that my listener fatigue already started to develop before I became SSD. By talking to a cousin of my wife who had an acoustic neuroma removed several years earlier, she had mentioned that going to functions like weddings, concerts and conferences was exhausting with all the noise she had to deal with. Through our Facebooking and research we actually stumbled across this phenomenon. What I find that helps is that I rest when I need to. Get a good night’s sleep and take naps. I always joke and tell my wife “I just need twenty minutes”! Usually that’s all I nap but it is so refreshing. Even if you are not SSD, I encourage it LOL. Tip: Sleep on your good ear (you will fall asleep faster :)).
If you know you are going to have a busy day, plan. Do not over schedule yourself. Pack quick snacks and refreshments, Take “quiet breaks” to give your ear a rest. It all seems like common sense but we all lead busy lives and sometimes forget to do any of this. A little preparation goes a long way.
How do athletes seem to have boundless amounts of energy? They train consistently which helps them perform at their optimum level. This is what you need to do. You might not like exercise but here’s the thing…you don’t really have to. If you can do something as easy as walking moderately for 20 mins / 3 times a week you are on the path to give your self the extra energy you need to deal with listener fatigue. I am a little more adventurous. I walk on the treadmill about 5 times a week and I lift weights about three times a week.
Let’s face it. there are going to be situations you are not going to do well in. My only advice here is to minimize or avoid certain situations all together. After awhile, you will know what your triggers are. For me at the moment is my son’s changing voice (he is going through puberty :)). His voice is at the pitch where it feels like someone is sticking a sharp object into my good ear. Obviously I can’t avoid my son but I can stand where it is not as loud so there is not as much stabbing! I also become more picky about where I go out. Places like a loud bar I won’t go to but I will go to a concert that has proper sound engineering. I use specially fitted musicians plugs and it is even quieter than seeing a band in a bar…
Using the above mentioned techniques you should be able to avoid or at least mitigate the sensory overload issues one might experience with listener fatigue. So if someone asks you about it, you can say “yeah, it’s a thing” and show them this article!