Hearing loss and fatigue

Hearing Loss and Fatigue

Worn out by the struggle to hear?

The effort of trying to follow a conversation tends to leave people with hearing loss exhausted, anxious and plenty stressed. Yet, the ties between hearing loss and fatigue are all too often under-appreciated by patients and medical specialists alike. 

One strains to hear, to speech-or lipread and to make sense out of body language. By the time the brain has coordinated and sorted it all out, the speaker is already on the next topic or a few presentation slides ahead. 

Eventually, the hearing or listening effort leads to listening fatigue. It feels like the brain is overloaded by a logjam of messages. The energy that is spent on hearing and listening is no longer available for other activities or tasks. 

Need for awareness

Raising the awareness of the connection between hearing loss and fatigue is part of the necessary education for those who seek professional hearing help. Such education is known as “Aural Rehabilitation.” But does that happen? 

It was not until I attended a support group that I began to understand that hearing loss and fatigue are indeed very much related and intertwined. Merely trying to listen became like an extra job! 

Doctors tend to be poorly trained when it comes to hearing loss, its causes and side effects. And so, doctors might also fail to connect a patient’s hearing loss to complaints of an almost chronic fatigue. What could this be? Anemia? Depression? Psychological issues? 

What to do?

· Be aware that hearing struggles can lead to tiredness that even doctors might not link to hearing loss

· Get tested and find out what kind of help is best for you. Hearing aids, assistive listening devices (ALDs) and cochlear implants might not be perfect but they do a lot to streamline the listening effort, therefore greatly easing listening fatigue.

· Learn about Active Listening techniques that can decrease the listening effort. Tune in rather than out. 

· Plan your activities if at all possible and pace yourself to conserve energy.

· What will the communication load be at work or at social gatherings? In other words, for how long and how much will you be expected to pay attention or make conversation? So, if you have a morning filled with meetings, then scheduling yet another communication-rich event for the evening is not a good idea. 

· Take listening breaks. At work, find a quiet place where you can give the brain and the mind a chance to be calm and to refresh. 

· Manage your communication environment in larger and loud places. Get out of the huddle. One-on-one communication in a more sedate corner of the room will save energy and offer a better chance at actually understanding.

The good thing is that there is ongoing research into hearing effort and the ties between hearing loss and fatigue. However, for everyday living, awareness is key. It prepares us for fending off the tiring effects of everyday communication. And so, once again, the proverb “Forewarned is forearmed” proves to be true.  


Meet me online

I do ZOOM/Skype or Teams presentations on Hearing Loss Prevention and on Hearing Loss and Workplace Safety 

Email: [email protected]

Visit my website hearing-loss-talk.com

I even Tweet: @WhatDidYouSay88