Hearing loss is associated with fatigue in middle-aged and older adults

Photo credit: RDNE Stock project

by Daniel Fink, MD, Chair, The Quiet Coalition

The July 6, 2023, issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery includes an article from Johns Hopkins University’s Bloomberg School of Public Health, reporting a correlation between hearing loss and complaints of fatigue in middle-aged and older adults. The article is behind a paywall but I want to let the Quiet Coalition’s readers know about it.

The article’s first paragraph states, “fatigue is a lingering feeling of tiredness and exhaustion, and is associated with impaired cognitive function, worse psychological well-being and decreased quality of life.” The research is based on analysis of data collected as part of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Health and Nutrition Evaluation Survey. There are methodological issues with the research (questions and age categories change from year to year in the surveys) and correlation is not causation, but the statistical association that adults with hearing loss had more frequent complaints of fatigue is interesting.

Hearing loss is associated with a wide range of health problems, including social isolation, depression, dementia, falls, accidents and increased rates of hospitalization and death. Now we know that it’s also associated with fatigue.

Noise-induced hearing loss is very common in adults, but it’s entirely preventable. Avoid loud noise, turn down the volume, leave the noisy environment or use hearing protection because if it sounds loud, it’s too loud, and your auditory health is at risk. You will be able to hear your grandchildren when you get old and you may also be less fatigued.

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