Last night, did you turn the volume up on your TV? It might be an indication of hearing loss if you did. But you can’t quite remember and that’s a problem. And that’s becoming more of a problem recently. While you were working yesterday, you weren’t able to remember your new co-worker’s name. Yes, you just met her but your hearing and your memory seem to be faltering. And there’s only one common denominator you can find: aging.
Now, absolutely, age can be connected to both hearing loss and memory failure. But it turns out these two age-associated symptoms are also linked to each other. At first, that might seem like bad news (you have to cope with hearing loss and memory loss together…great). But there can be hidden positives to this relationship.
The Connection Between Memory And Hearing Loss
Hearing impairment can be taxing for your brain in a number of ways long before you’re aware of the decrease in your hearing. Your brain, memory, and even social life can, over time, be overwhelmed by the “spillover”.
How does a deficiency of your ear affect so much of your brain? Well, there are a few specific ways:
- Social isolation: When you have a hard time hearing, you’ll probably experience some added challenges communicating. Social isolation will often be the outcome, Once again, your brain is lacking vital interaction which can lead to memory problems. The brain will keep getting weaker the less it’s used. Social isolation, depression, and memory problems will, over time, develop.
- It’s becoming quieter: As your hearing starts to waver, you’re going to experience more quietness (especially if your hearing loss is overlooked and untreated). This can be, well, kind of boring for the region of your brain usually responsible for the interpretation of sounds. This boredom may not appear to be a serious problem, but lack of use can actually cause parts of your brain to weaken and atrophy. That can lead to a certain degree of generalized stress, which can impact your memory.
- Constant strain: Your brain will undergo a hyper-activation fatigue, especially in the early stages of hearing loss. That’s because your brain will be struggling to hear what’s happening out in the world, even though there’s no input signal (your brain doesn’t know that you’re experiencing hearing loss, it just thinks things are very quiet, so it gives a lot of effort attempting to hear in that silent environment). This can leave your brain (and your body) feeling exhausted. That mental and physical exhaustion often results in loss of memory.
Memory Loss is an Early Warning System For Your Body
Clearly, having hearing loss isn’t the only thing that triggers memory loss. There are plenty of things that can cause your recollections to start to get fuzzy, and that includes fatigue and illness (either mental or physical forms). Eating better and sleeping well, for instance, can usually increase your memory.
This can be an example of your body throwing up red flags. The red flags go up when things aren’t working right. And having a hard time recalling who said what in yesterday’s meeting is one of those red flags.
But these warnings can help you recognize when things are beginning to go wrong with your hearing.
Hearing Loss is Commonly Connected to Loss of Memory
It’s often difficult to recognize the early symptoms and signs of hearing loss. Hearing loss is one of those slow-moving conditions. Once you actually recognize the corresponding symptoms, the damage to your hearing tends to be more advanced than most hearing specialists would like. However, if you start noticing symptoms related to memory loss and get an exam early, there’s a strong possibility you can avoid some damage to your hearing.
Getting Your Memories Back
In situations where hearing loss has impacted your memory, whether it’s through social isolation or mental exhaustion, the first step is to manage the underlying hearing problem. When your brain stops overworking and straining, it’ll be able to return to its normal activities. It can take a few months for your brain to re-adjust to hearing again, so be patient.
The warning signs raised by your loss of memory could help you be a little more aware of protecting your hearing, or at least managing your hearing loss. That’s a lesson to remember as you get older.