Last night, did you turn up the volume on your TV? It might be a sign of hearing loss if you did. But you can’t quite remember and that’s a problem. And that’s starting become more of an issue recently. You couldn’t even remember the name of your new co-worker when you were at work yesterday. Yes, you just met her but your memory and your hearing seem to be declining. And as you think about it, you can only come up with one common cause: aging.
Certainly, both hearing and memory can be impacted by age. But it turns out these two age-associated symptoms are also linked to one another. At first, that might sound like bad news (you have to cope with memory loss and hearing loss together…great). But there can be unseen positives to this connection.
The Connection Between Memory And Hearing Loss
Hearing impairment can be straining for your brain in numerous ways long before you’re aware of the diminishing prowess of your ears. 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? Well, there are a few specific ways:
- Social isolation: Communication will become harder when you have a difficult time hearing. That can push some people to isolate themselves. Again, your brain is deprived of vital interaction which can lead to memory issues. The brain will keep getting weaker the less it’s used. Social isolation, depression, and memory issues will, over time, develop.
- An abundance of quiet: As your hearing starts to waver, you’re going to experience more quietness (particularly if your hearing loss is overlooked and neglected). This can be, well, kind of boring for the parts of your brain normally responsible for interpreting sounds. And if the brain isn’t used it begins to weaken and atrophy. This can affect the performance of all of your brain’s systems including memory.
- Constant strain: In the early phases of hearing loss especially, your brain will experience a type of hyper-activation exhaustion. That’s because your brain will be struggling to hear what’s going on out in the world, even though there’s no input signal (it puts in a lot of energy trying to hear because without realizing you have hearing loss, it thinks that everything is quiet). This can leave your brain (and your body) feeling fatigued. That mental and physical exhaustion often leads to memory loss.
Your Body Has An Early Warning System – It’s Called Memory Loss
Clearly, having hearing loss isn’t the only thing that triggers memory loss. Mental or physical illness or fatigue, among other things, can trigger loss of memory. Eating better and sleeping well, for instance, can usually improve your memory.
This can be a case of your body putting up red flags. Your brain begins to raise red flags when things aren’t working properly. And one of those red flags is failing to remember what your friend said yesterday.
But these warnings can help you recognize when things are beginning to go wrong with your hearing.
Memory Loss Often Indicates Hearing Loss
It’s often difficult to recognize the early symptoms and signs of hearing loss. Hearing loss is one of those slowly advancing ailments. Once you actually notice the corresponding symptoms, the damage to your hearing is generally more advanced than most hearing specialists would like. But if you have your hearing checked soon after noticing some memory loss, you may be able to catch the issue early.
Getting Your Memories Back
In cases where hearing loss has affected your memory, either via mental fatigue or social isolation, treatment of your root hearing problem is step one in treatment. The brain will be capable of getting back to its normal activity when it stops stressing and overworking. Be patient, it can take a while for your brain to adjust to hearing again.
Memory loss can be a practical warning that you need to pay attention to the state of your hearing and protecting your ears. As the years begin to add up, that’s definitely a lesson worth remembering.