Did you turn up the TV last night? It may be an indication of hearing loss if you did. But you can’t quite remember and that’s an issue. 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. You just met her, but still, it feels like you’re losing your grip on your hearing and your memory. And there’s only one common denominator you can think of: you’re getting older.
Certainly, both memory and hearing can be impacted by age. But it’s even more relevant that these two can also be related to each other. At first, that might sound like bad news (not only do you have to deal with hearing loss, you have to manage your failing memory too, wonderful). But there can be unseen positives to this relationship.
The Connection Between Memory And Hearing Loss
Your brain begins to get taxed from hearing loss before you even realize you have it. Though the “spillover” effects may start out small, over time they can expand, encompassing your brain, your memory, even your social life.
How does a deficiency of your hearing affect so much of your brain? Well, there are a number of different ways:
- Constant strain: Your brain will undergo a hyper-activation fatigue, especially in the early phases of hearing loss. 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 (your brain doesn’t recognize 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. That mental and physical exhaustion often leads to memory loss.
- It’s getting quieter: As your hearing starts to waver, you’re going to experience more quietness (particularly if your hearing loss is overlooked and neglected). For the regions of your brain that interprets sound, this can be quite dull. And if the brain isn’t used it starts to weaken and atrophy. This can affect the function of all of your brain’s systems including memory.
- Social isolation: When you have trouble hearing, you’ll probably encounter some added challenges communicating. Social isolation will frequently be the result, Once again, your brain is deprived of vital interaction which can bring about memory issues. The brain will continue to weaken the less it’s used. In the long run, social separation can cause anxiety, depression, and memory problems.
Memory Loss is an Early Warning System For Your Body
Clearly, having hearing loss isn’t the only thing that triggers memory loss. 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.
This can be a case of your body putting up red flags. Your brain begins to raise red flags when things aren’t working correctly. And having trouble recalling who said what in yesterday’s meeting is one of those red flags.
Those red flags can be useful if you’re attempting to watch out for hearing loss.
Hearing Loss is Often Linked to Memory Loss
It’s frequently hard to detect the early signs and symptoms of hearing loss. Hearing loss doesn’t happen instantly. Once you actually recognize the associated symptoms, the damage to your hearing is generally more advanced than most hearing specialists would like. But if you get your hearing checked soon after noticing some memory loss, you might be able to catch the issue early.
Getting Your Memories Back
In cases where hearing loss has impacted your memory, either via mental exhaustion or social isolation, treatment of your root hearing issue is step one in treatment. When your brain stops overworking and straining, it’ll be able to return to its regular activities. It can take a few months for your brain to get used 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. As the years start to add up, that’s certainly a lesson worth remembering.