Last night, did you turn up the volume on your TV? If so, it might be an indication of hearing loss. But you can’t quite remember and that’s a problem. And that’s been happening more frequently, also. You couldn’t even remember the name of your new co-worker when you were at work yesterday. You met her recently, but even so, it seems like you’re losing your grip on your hearing and your memory. And as you rack your brains, you can only come up with one common cause: you’re getting older.
Certainly, both memory and hearing can be affected by age. But it turns out these two age-associated symptoms are also connected to one another. At first, that might seem like bad news (you have to cope with memory loss and hearing loss together…great). But there can be unseen positives to this connection.
Memory And Hearing Loss – What’s The Relationship?
Your brain starts to become taxed from hearing impairment before you even know 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 impacted by hearing loss? There are several ways:
- Constant strain: In the early stages of hearing loss especially, your brain is going to experience a sort of hyper-activation exhaustion. This happens because, even though there’s no external input signal, your brain struggles to hear what’s happening in the world (it devotes a lot of energy trying to hear because without recognizing you have hearing loss, it believes that everything is quiet). Your brain and your body will be left fatigued. Loss of memory and other problems can be the outcome.
- An abundance of quiet: Things will get quieter when your hearing begins to wane (this is especially true if your hearing loss is neglected). For the parts of your brain that interprets sound, this can be rather dull. And if the brain isn’t used it begins to weaken and atrophy. This can affect the function of all of your brain’s systems including memory.
- Social isolation: Communication will become strained when you have a difficult time hearing. That can push some individuals to isolate themselves. And isolation can lead to memory issues because, once again, your brain isn’t getting as much interaction as it once did. The brain will keep getting weaker the less it’s used. In the long run, social isolation can lead to anxiety, depression, and memory problems.
Memory Loss is an Early Warning System For Your Body
Obviously, having hearing loss isn’t the only thing that leads to memory loss. Physical or mental illness or fatigue, among other things, can trigger loss of memory. Eating better and sleeping well, for instance, can generally increase your memory.
This can be an example of your body putting up red flags. Your brain starts raising red flags 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 trying to keep an eye out for hearing loss.
Hearing Loss is Frequently Related to Loss of Memory
The symptoms and signs of hearing loss can often be difficult to recognize. Hearing loss doesn’t happen over night. Once you actually notice the corresponding symptoms, the damage to your hearing is generally farther along than most hearing specialists would like. However, if you begin identifying symptoms associated with memory loss and get an exam early, there’s a strong possibility you can avoid some damage to your hearing.
Retrieving Your Memory
In situations where your memory has already been affected by hearing loss, either via mental exhaustion or social isolation, the first task is to deal with the root hearing problem. When your brain stops struggling and straining, it’ll be able to return to its regular activities. Be patient, it can take a bit for your brain to get used to hearing again.
Loss of memory can be a practical warning that you need to keep your eye on the state of your hearing and safeguarding your ears. That’s a lesson to remember as you get older.