Too Tired to Listen? Understanding Hearing Loss-Related Fatigue

Fatigue is a common, but important, complaint of individuals with a variety of chronic health conditions. Anecdotal reports and qualitative research have suggested for many years that fatigue was also an important, but overlooked, consequence of hearing loss. Consider this anecdotal report from a person with hearing loss: “I crashed. This letdown wasn’t the usual worn-out feeling after a long day. It was pure exhaustion, the deepest kind of fatigue. I took a nap hoping it would refresh me, but when I woke up three hours later I was still so tired I gave up on the day…. The only cause of my fatigue I could identify was the stress of struggling to understand what those around [me] were saying…” (Copithorne, 2006). Even though these types of anecdotal reports are common, research examining fatigue in persons with hearing loss is limited. This presentation will introduce the construct of fatigue- its importance, definitions, prevalence, consequences and potential linkage to increased listening effort in persons with hearing loss. In addition, methods for assessing fatigue will be discussed and preliminary data from ongoing studies in our laboratory examining fatigue in persons with hearing loss will be presented.

Learning Objectives:
1. Define the construct of fatigue and discuss its potential impact on persons with hearing loss, and
2. Describe methods for assessing fatigue in persons with hearing loss.
3. Describe factors that may modulate hearing-loss related fatigue.