Did you turn the TV up last night? It might be an indication of hearing loss if you did. The challenge is… you can’t quite remember. 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 hearing and your memory seem to be faltering. And as you think about it, you can only come up with one common cause: aging.
Now, absolutely, age can be connected to both loss of hearing and memory malfunction. But it’s even more significant that these two can also be linked to each other. That might sound like bad news at first (not only do you have to deal with hearing loss, you have to manage your waning memory too, wonderful). But there can be unseen positives to this relationship.
The Relationship Between Memory And Hearing Loss
Hearing loss can be straining for your brain in a number of ways well before you recognize the decrease in your hearing. Your brain, memory, and even social life can, over time, be overwhelmed by the “spillover”.
How is so much of your brain affected by loss of hearing? There are numerous ways:
- Social isolation: Communication will become strained when you have a hard time hearing. Social isolation will often be the result, Again, your brain is deprived of vital interaction which can lead to memory problems. The brain will continue to weaken the less it’s used. Over time, social separation can result in depression, anxiety, and memory problems.
- Constant strain: Your brain will undergo a hyper-activation fatigue, particularly in the early phases of hearing loss. That’s because your brain will be straining to hear what’s taking place out in the world, even though there’s no input signal (it puts in a lot of energy trying to hear because without recognizing you have hearing loss, it thinks that everything is quiet). Your brain as well as your body will be left fatigued. Memory loss and other issues can be the outcome.
- It’s getting quieter: Things will get quieter when your hearing starts to wane (this is particularly true if your hearing loss is neglected). For the parts of your brain that interprets sound, this can be quite dull. This boredom might not appear to be a serious problem, but disuse can actually cause parts of your brain to weaken and atrophy. This can affect the function of all of your brain’s systems and that includes memory.
Your Body Has An Early Warning System – It’s Called Memory Loss
Memory loss isn’t exclusive to hearing loss, of course. There are plenty of things that can cause your memories to start getting fuzzy, such as illness or fatigue (either physical or mental forms). Eating better and sleeping well, for instance, can often improve your memory.
This can be a case of your body putting up red flags. The red flags go up when things aren’t working right. And one of those red flags is forgetting 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 Connected to Memory Loss
The symptoms and signs of hearing impairment can often be difficult to notice. Hearing loss doesn’t happen instantly. Once you actually notice the corresponding symptoms, the damage to your hearing is generally more advanced than most hearing specialists would like. However, if you begin noticing symptoms associated with memory loss and get an exam early, there’s a good possibility you can prevent some damage to your hearing.
Getting Your Memories Back
In situations where hearing loss has affected your memory, either via mental exhaustion or social isolation, the first step is to deal with the root hearing problem. The brain will be able to get back to its normal activity when it stops stressing and struggling. Be patient, it can take a bit for your brain to adjust to hearing again.
Loss of memory can be a practical warning that you need to pay attention to the state of your hearing and safeguarding your ears. That’s a lesson to remember as you get older.