Hearing Loss & Fatigue


Hearing loss and tiredness may seem to have nothing in common, but they have much more than you think. Do you feel tired and low on energy after a day of busy conversations, whether at work or with friends? You might be tired because you have trouble hearing. Fatigue is extreme tiredness, usually caused by mental or physical exertion. Mental fatigue is often a harmful side effect of hearing loss because it comes from having to listen hard.


Having trouble hearing can be tiring because your brain has to work harder to make sense of sounds that aren’t complete. According to a recent study, half of the people with hearing loss who worked said they were tired mentally or physically all the time. Compared to the rate of fatigue in workers without hearing loss, this dropped to around 30%.

Hearing loss changes the way your body hears sounds in significant ways. Our inner ear sends information about sounds to our auditory cortex, where the sounds are recognized and make sense. When hearing isn’t as good as it is used, the auditory nerve sends new signals to the brain. To understand and interpret words accurately, our minds must use more resources.

This reorganizing of our mental energy might not seem like a big deal, but it takes a toll on our bodies and can quickly tire us out. When someone has hearing loss, they must keep using extra mental resources. This takes their attention away from essential functions like balance and coordination. All of this makes it easy to run out of energy quickly and can make daily schedules that used to be easy seem hard.

Mental fatigue and cognitive load

This is an example of “cognitive load,” or the work you must do to make sense of what you hear. Working memory, the part of our brain that consciously processes information, is the most essential part of learning. Working memory can only hold about 4–5 pieces of information at once, and those pieces only stay there for about 10 seconds. With cognitive load, the brain is busy filling in the blanks, so it doesn’t have much energy left to store and process what it has heard in working memory. These ideas are essential for people who have trouble hearing. It makes sense that if you don’t work as hard to fill in the missing pieces of what you hear, you’ll have more mental energy to listen and understand more easily.

Ways to lighten the load on your brain

Hearing loss doesn’t have to make it hard to understand all the information you get daily. Here are some things you can do to lessen the effects of hearing loss and the mental fatigue that comes with it:

Take breaks. If you’re getting tired of listening in a social or work setting, take a short break to relax and give your mind a rest. Taking a break, putting on noise-canceling headphones to stop being overstimulated, or even taking a quick nap are all ways to reduce stress and wake up.

Meditate. Meditation is becoming increasingly popular for keeping your mind and body healthy. Meditation and finding calm inside can help ease the stress of hearing loss and demanding listening. Meditation is free, can be done anywhere, and even a short 5-minute session has been shown to help.

Record and transcribe. Meetings and lectures, which require a lot of listening, can be stressful for people with hearing loss because they worry they will miss something important. Many smartphones and laptops have tools that can record or stream these kinds of conversations.

Reduce mental fatigue

When it comes to hearing loss, many people think getting a hearing test and hearing aids are the most important thing you can do. Hearing aids give us better access to the sounds around us, so we no longer have to strain to hear or try to focus on sounds in noisy places. The Hearing Loss Association of America says that it takes people an average of seven years after the first time they notice signs of hearing loss before they decide to get their hearing checked. 

Contact us immediately if you have trouble hearing. If a hearing loss is found, we will help you find the best way to treat it.