Hearing loss due to increased fatigue in middle-aged and elderly people

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Disclosure: Reed has not reported disclosure of related financial information. See this study for relevant financial disclosures of all other authors.


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Important points:

  • People with hearing loss reported feeling tired most days or half a day for two weeks.
  • This association was independent of underlying risk factors such as general health, age, and depression.

Hearing loss was associated with increased fatigue levels in middle-aged and older adults, according to a study published in . JAMA Otolaryngologyhead and neck surgery.

“Our paper suggests that hearing is associated with fatigue, independent of other potential risk factors such as general health, depression, age, gender, smoking, alcohol consumption, occupation, and noise exposure. doing.” Nicholas S. Reid, AuD,PhD, An assistant professor of epidemiology at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health told Helio. “There have been some previous studies on this subject, but the results have been mixed, very small, and mostly in clinical samples. It expands to



hearing loss
People with hearing loss reported feeling tired most days or half a day for two weeks. Image: Adobe Stock.

For this study, Reed et al. analyzed an audiometric subsample of data from the 2015-2018 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES).

To measure fatigue, NHANES participants were asked how often they had suffered from fatigue and lack of energy over the past two weeks. Response options included ‘never’, ‘several days’, ‘more than half a day’ and ‘almost every day’.

Of the 3,031 participants included in the final cohort, the mean age was 58 years and 52.3% were female. Overall, 713 participants experienced hearing loss.

Researchers found that participants with hearing loss were more likely to report fatigue over half a day for 2 weeks (relative risk ratio) [RRR] = 2.16, 95% CI, 1.27-3.67) on most days (RRR = 2.05, 95% CI, 1.16-3.65) compared to no fatigue.

On the other hand, every 10 decibels worsening of hearing level on audiometry increases the likelihood of fatigue on most days, but not more than half a day (RRR = 1.24, 95% CI, 1.04-1.47).

The association tended to be stronger in younger, non-Hispanic white and female participants, but statistical tests did not support differences by race, age, or ethnicity, Reed and colleagues noted.

Reed explained that hearing loss is often misunderstood as “more a clarity issue than a loudness issue.”

“A very simplistic example for people might be to compare hearing loss to hearing with a bad cell phone signal instead of all sound being attenuated, although the information comes through in fragments. , is difficult to track, requires focus and energy, it’s all together,” he said. “So it may not be surprising that hearing loss can cause fatigue.”

Furthermore, “this may help explain how hearing is linked to other health effects in older adults, such as reduced physical activity, poorer mental health and cognitive function.” said Reed.

He added that while the study did not prove that hearing aids could address fatigue, “we believe that best-practice hearing care could be one solution to reduce fatigue.”

“We believe primary care physicians can play an important role in sharing this information and recommending hearing care for adults with hearing loss,” he said. “The important caveat here, however, is that using hearing aids can itself be tiring. Hearing aids are not corrective like eyeglasses, so it takes a lot of learning and energy to get used to using them. is required.”

Reid concluded that future research “needs to separate the concepts of mental and physical fatigue and examine the therapeutic effects of hearing care.”

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