Did you turn up the TV last night? It may be a sign of hearing loss if so. But you can’t quite remember and that’s a problem. And that’s been occurring more often, also. You couldn’t even remember the name of your new co-worker when you were at work yesterday. You just met her, but even so, it seems like you’re losing your grip on your memory and your hearing. And as you rack your brains, you can only come up with one common cause: aging.
Now, sure, age can be connected to both loss of hearing and memory failure. But it’s even more significant that these two can also be connected to each other. That may sound like bad news initially (you have to cope with hearing loss and memory loss at the same time…great). But there can be hidden positives to this connection.
The Relationship Between Memory And Hearing Loss
Your brain begins to get taxed from hearing impairment before you even know 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 is so much of your brain impacted by loss of hearing? There are numerous ways:
- Social isolation: Communication will become strained when you have a hard time hearing. That can lead some individuals to isolate themselves. And isolation can result in memory issues because, again, your brain isn’t getting as much interaction as it once did. The brain will continue to weaken the less it’s used. Eventually, social isolation can result in anxiety, depression, and memory problems.
- An abundance of quiet: Things will become quieter when your hearing starts to diminish (particularly if your hearing loss is overlooked and untreated). This can be, well, rather boring for the parts of your brain normally responsible for interpreting sounds. And if the brain isn’t used it starts to weaken and atrophy. That can result in a certain degree of generalized stress, which can interfere with your memory.
- Constant strain: Your brain will go through a hyper-activation fatigue, especially in the early phases of hearing loss. 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 recognize that you’re experiencing loss of hearing, it just thinks things are really quiet, so it devotes 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 causes memory loss.
Your Body Has An Early Warning System – It’s Called Memory Loss
Memory loss isn’t exclusive to hearing loss, of course. Mental or physical fatigue or illness, among other things, can trigger loss of memory. Eating better and sleeping well, for instance, can often increase your memory.
This can be an example of your body putting up red flags. The red flags go up when things aren’t working properly. And one of those red flags is failing to remember what your friend said yesterday.
Those red flags can be helpful if you’re attempting to keep an eye out for hearing loss.
Hearing Loss is Often Linked to Loss of Memory
The symptoms and signs of hearing impairment can frequently be difficult to detect. Hearing loss is one of those slow-moving afflictions. Damage to your hearing is usually further along than you would like by the time you actually notice the symptoms. However, if you begin identifying symptoms related to memory loss and get an exam early, there’s a good chance 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 separation or mental fatigue, treatment of your root hearing issue is the first step 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 get used to hearing again.
Loss of memory 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 certainly a lesson worth remembering.