Did you turn up the TV last night? It may be an indication of hearing loss if so. But you can’t quite remember and that’s a problem. And that’s been occurring more frequently, also. You couldn’t even remember what your new co-worker’s name was when you were at work yesterday. Yes, you just met her but your hearing and your memory seem to be declining. And there’s only one common denominator you can think of: aging.
Now, sure, age can be related to both loss of hearing and memory failure. But it’s even more significant that these two can also be related to each other. At first, that may sound like bad news (you have to cope with hearing loss and memory loss at the same time…great). But there can be hidden positives to this relationship.
Memory And Hearing Loss – What’s The Connection?
Your brain begins to get taxed from hearing impairment before you even realize you have it. Your brain, memory, and even social life can, over time, be overwhelmed by the “spillover”.
How is so much of your brain impacted by loss of hearing? Well, there are a number of distinct ways:
- Social isolation: Communication will become harder when you have a hard time hearing. Social isolation will frequently be the consequence, And isolation can result in memory problems because, again, your brain isn’t getting as much interaction as it used to. When those (metaphorical) muscles aren’t used, they start to deteriorate. In the long run, social separation can lead to depression, anxiety, and memory issues.
- Constant strain: In the early stages of hearing loss especially, your brain is going to experience a kind of hyper-activation fatigue. This occurs because, even though there’s no actual input signal, your brain strains to hear what’s happening in the world (your brain doesn’t know that you’re experiencing loss of hearing, it just thinks external sounds are very quiet, so it devotes a lot of effort attempting to hear in that quiet environment). Your brain as well as your body will be left fatigued. That mental and physical fatigue often causes memory loss.
- It’s getting quieter: As your hearing begins to waver, you’re going to experience more quietness (particularly if your hearing loss goes unnoticed and neglected). This can be, well, rather boring for the region of your brain normally responsible for interpreting sounds. And if the brain isn’t used it begins to weaken and atrophy. That can lead to a certain amount of overall stress, which can hinder your memory.
Loss of memory is an Early Warning System For Your Body
Memory loss isn’t unique to hearing loss, naturally. Physical or mental fatigue or illness, among other things, can cause loss of memory. As an example, eating healthy and sleeping well can help improve your memory.
In this way, memory is sort of like the canary in the coal mine for your body. Your brain begins to raise red flags when things aren’t working correctly. And having a hard time remembering who said what in yesterday’s meeting is one of those red flags.
But these warnings can help you recognize when things are starting to go wrong with your hearing.
Hearing Loss is Frequently Connected to Memory Loss
It’s frequently hard to recognize the early signs and symptoms of hearing loss. Hearing loss doesn’t happen over night. Once you actually recognize the corresponding symptoms, the damage to your hearing is usually farther along than most hearing specialists would want. However, if you start to notice symptoms related to memory loss and get an exam early, there’s a good chance you can avoid some damage to your hearing.
Retrieving Your Memory
In situations where your memory has already been impacted by hearing loss, whether it’s through social separation or mental fatigue, treatment of your underlying hearing issue is step one in treatment. The brain will be capable of getting back to its normal activity when it stops stressing and overworking. It can take a few months for your brain to re-adjust to hearing again, so be patient.
Memory loss can be a practical warning that you need to keep your eye on the state of your hearing and protecting your ears. That’s a lesson to remember as you get older.