Last night, did you turn up the volume on your TV? It may be an indication of hearing loss if so. The challenge is… you can’t quite remember. And that’s been occurring more often, too. While you were working yesterday, you weren’t able to remember your new co-worker’s name. Yes, you just met her but your hearing and your memory seem to be declining. And as you rack your brains, you can only come up with one common cause: aging.
Certainly, both memory and hearing can be affected by age. But it’s even more significant that these two can also be connected to each other. That might sound like bad news initially (not only do you have to deal with hearing loss, you have to manage your failing memory too, wonderful). But the reality is, the link between hearing loss and memory can often be a blessing in disguise.
Memory And Hearing Loss – What’s The Link?
Hearing impairment can be straining for your brain in a number of ways well before you’re aware of the decrease in your hearing. 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 affected by loss of hearing? Well, there are a few specific ways:
- Social isolation: Communication will become strained when you have a difficult time hearing. Social isolation will commonly be the outcome, Again, your brain is lacking vital interaction which can result in memory issues. When those (metaphorical) muscles aren’t used, they start to deteriorate. Eventually, social separation can lead to depression, anxiety, and memory issues.
- Constant strain: Your brain will undergo a hyper-activation fatigue, particularly in the early stages 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 (your brain doesn’t recognize that you’re experiencing loss of hearing, it just thinks things are really quiet, so it gives a lot of energy trying to hear in that silent environment). Your brain as well as your body will be left exhausted. Memory loss and other problems can be the outcome.
- An abundance of quiet: As your hearing starts to waver, you’re going to experience more quietness (this is especially true if your hearing loss is neglected). This can be, well, rather boring for the parts of your brain usually responsible for interpreting sounds. This boredom might not seem like a serious problem, but disuse can actually cause parts of your brain to atrophy or weaken. That can cause a certain amount of overall stress, which can impact your memory.
Loss of memory is an Early Warning System For Your Body
Memory loss isn’t unique to hearing loss, of course. Mental or physical illness or fatigue, among other things, can cause memory loss. As an example, eating healthy and sleeping well can help help your memory.
This can be a case 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 forgetting what your friend said yesterday.
Those red flags can be helpful if you’re trying to watch out for hearing loss.
Memory Loss Frequently Indicates Hearing Loss
The symptoms and signs of hearing impairment can frequently be difficult to notice. Hearing loss is one of those slowly advancing conditions. Once you actually notice the associated symptoms, the damage to your hearing tends to be more advanced than most hearing specialists would want. But if you have your hearing checked soon after detecting some memory loss, you might be able to catch the problem early.
Retrieving Your Memory
In situations where your memory has already been impacted by hearing loss, whether it’s through social separation or mental exhaustion, the first step is to manage the underlying hearing issue. When your brain stops struggling and over stressing, it’ll be able to return to its normal activities. It can take several months for your brain to get used to hearing again, so be patient.
Memory loss can be a practical warning that you need to pay attention to the state of your hearing and protecting your ears. As the years start to add up, that’s definitely a lesson worth remembering.