Last night, did you turn the volume up on your TV? It might be a sign of hearing loss if so. But you can’t quite remember and that’s an issue. And that’s starting become more of a problem recently. You couldn’t even remember the name of your new co-worker when you were at work yesterday. You met her recently, but still, it feels like you’re losing your grip on your hearing and your memory. And as you think about it, you can only come up with one common cause: aging.
Certainly, both memory and hearing can be affected by age. But it’s even more relevant that these two can also be linked to each other. At first, that may seem like bad news (not only do you have to deal with loss of hearing, you have to manage your failing memory too, wonderful). But the reality is, the connection between hearing loss and memory can often be a blessing in disguise.
The Relationship Between Memory And Hearing Loss
Your brain starts to become strained from hearing loss 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 affected by hearing loss? There are numerous ways:
- Social isolation: Communication will become harder when you have a hard time hearing. That can push some individuals to isolate themselves. And isolation can result in memory issues because, once again, your brain isn’t getting as much interaction as it used to. The brain will keep getting weaker the less it’s used. Social isolation, depression, and memory problems will, over time, develop.
- An abundance of quiet: As your hearing begins to diminish, you’re going to experience more quietness (especially if your hearing loss goes unnoticed and neglected). This can be, well, rather boring for the parts of your brain usually responsible for interpreting sounds. And if the brain isn’t used it begins to weaken and atrophy. This can impact the function of all of your brain’s systems and that includes memory.
- Constant strain: In the early phases of hearing loss especially, your brain will experience a type of hyper-activation fatigue. That’s because your brain will be straining 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 really quiet, so it gives a lot of energy attempting to hear in that quiet environment). This can leave your brain (and your body) feeling tired. Loss of memory and other problems can be the outcome.
Loss of memory is an Early Warning System For Your Body
Clearly, having hearing loss isn’t the only thing that triggers memory loss. There are lots of things that can cause your memories to begin to get fuzzy, such as illness or fatigue (either mental or physical forms). As an example, eating healthy and sleeping well can help help your memory.
This can be a case of your body throwing up red flags. Your brain begins to raise red flags when things aren’t working correctly. And one of those red flags is forgetting what your friend said yesterday.
But these warnings can help you recognize when things are starting to go wrong with your hearing.
Loss of Memory Often Points to Hearing Loss
It’s often difficult to recognize the early signs and symptoms of hearing loss. Hearing loss is one of those slow-moving afflictions. Damage to your hearing is commonly worse than you would want by the time you actually observe the symptoms. However, if you begin noticing symptoms associated with memory loss and get checked out early, there’s a good possibility you can prevent some damage to your hearing.
Getting Your Memories Back
In situations where your memory has already been impacted by hearing loss, whether it’s through social isolation or mental fatigue, treatment of your underlying hearing issue is step one in treatment. The brain will be capable of getting back to its regular activity when it stops straining and struggling. It can take several 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.