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Fatigue caused by hearing loss. – Alison Coetzee Audiology

Fatigue caused by hearing loss.

What is fatigue?

Fatigue is always a subjective feeling, of exhaustion, or extreme unwillingness to continue. Cognitive or mental fatigue can result from prolonged mental effort. Additionally, some people identify “emotional fatigue” as a unique type of exhaustion brought on by ongoing emotional stress. It appears that the subjective perception of all forms of exhaustion is the same, which is that one would need to give more of oneself than one could possibly give.

Impact of fatigue caused by hearing loss.

The effect likely differs from person to person. To give themselves enough time to recover from exhausting episodes, some people may limit their social life, while others may continue to be as active as their peers but find less enjoyment in it. Of course, people who work regular jobs might not have complete control over their own activity level and consequently grow weary.

 Extreme exhaustion outside of work, a reduction in earning potential, or an early retirement from the workforce are all potential outcomes.

Addressing hearing loss

Hearing devices are often fitted to help with some of the speech perception issues that are associated with hearing loss. Most frequently, these devices are hearing aids and assistive listening devices.  According to Ferguson et al. (2017), the fitting of hearing aids typically results in significant reductions in hearing impairment. Fitting hearing aids has also been demonstrated to lessen the amount of listening effort needed during conversations. It would be expected that wearing a hearing device would reduce fatigue given the suggested links between listening effort and fatigue.

Hearing-loss related fatigue

Research consistently shows that fatigue levels are higher in those with hearing loss than in those without. That being said, hearing loss-related fatigue is usually far less severe and affects fewer people than, say, chemotherapy-related fatigue. When hearing-impaired individuals express how tired they feel, it isn’t always only about the mental strain of trying to understand speech; there’s also the effort of coping (like figuring out where to sit ahead of time and making sure you get that seat) and the emotional strain of feeling like you’re falling behind and might even be annoying your partner.


Professor Graham Naylor interviewed by Jane Woodward for Phonak Audiology Blog

Holman JA, Drummond A, Naylor G. The Effect of Hearing Loss and Hearing Device Fitting on Fatigue in Adults: A Systematic Review. Ear Hear. 2021 Jan/Feb;42(1):1-11. doi: 10.1097/AUD.0000000000000909. PMID: 32639255; PMCID: PMC7757744.

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