Last night, did you turn up the volume on your TV? It might be an indication of hearing loss if you did. But you can’t quite remember and that’s an issue. And that’s becoming more of a problem recently. While you were working yesterday, you weren’t able to remember your new co-worker’s name. You met her recently, but even so, it feels like you’re losing your grip on your memory and your hearing. And there’s just one common denominator you can think of: you’re getting older.
Certainly, both hearing and memory can be affected by age. But it turns out these two age-associated conditions are also linked to each other. That might sound like bad news initially (you have to deal with hearing loss and memory loss together…great). But the truth is, the relationship between hearing loss and memory can often be a blessing in disguise.
The Connection Between Memory And Hearing Loss
Your brain starts to become strained 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 does a deficiency of your hearing impact such a large part of your brain? There are several ways:
- An abundance of quiet: Things will become quieter when your hearing starts to diminish (especially if your hearing loss goes unnoticed and untreated). This can be, well, kind of boring for the parts of your brain usually responsible for the interpretation of sounds. And if the brain isn’t used it starts to weaken and atrophy. This can impact 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 people to isolate themselves. Again, your brain is deprived of vital interaction which can lead to memory issues. When those (metaphorical) muscles aren’t engaged, they start to deteriorate. Social isolation, depression, and memory issues will, over time, develop.
- Constant strain: In the early phases of hearing loss especially, your brain will experience a kind of hyper-activation exhaustion. This occurs because, even though there’s no actual input signal, your brain struggles to hear what’s taking place 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 exhausted. That mental and physical fatigue often results in loss of memory.
Memory Loss is an Early Warning System For Your Body
Clearly, having hearing loss isn’t the only thing that leads to memory loss. There are plenty of things that can cause your recollections to begin getting fuzzy, and that includes illness or fatigue (either mental or physical forms). Eating better and sleeping well, for example, can usually increase your memory.
This can be an example of your body throwing up red flags. The red flags come out when things aren’t working right. And having trouble remembering who said what in yesterday’s meeting is one of those red flags.
But these warnings can help you know when things are starting to go wrong with your hearing.
Hearing Loss is Often Connected to Loss of Memory
It’s frequently hard to detect the early symptoms and signs of hearing loss. Hearing loss doesn’t develop over night. Once you actually notice the associated symptoms, the damage to your hearing is generally more advanced than most hearing specialists would like. However, if you begin to notice symptoms related to memory loss and get checked out early, there’s a strong chance you can prevent some damage to your hearing.
Retrieving Your Memory
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 problem is step one in treatment. When your brain stops struggling and over stressing, it’ll be able to return to its regular activities. Be patient, it can take a while for your brain to get used to hearing again.
Memory loss 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.