Last night, did you turn the volume up on your TV? It may be an indication of hearing loss if you did. The problem is… you can’t quite remember. And that’s starting become more of an issue recently. You couldn’t even remember what your new co-worker’s name was when you were at work yesterday. You met her recently, but still, it seems like you’re losing your grip on your hearing and your memory. And as you rack your brains, you can only formulate one common cause: you’re getting older.
Now, absolutely, age can be related to both hearing loss and memory failure. But it’s even more relevant that these two can also be linked to each other. At first, that may seem like bad news (you have to deal with memory loss and hearing loss at the same time…great). But the reality is, the connection between memory and hearing loss can often be a blessing in disguise.
The Connection Between Memory And Hearing Loss
Your brain starts to become taxed from hearing impairment before you even realize 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 affected by hearing loss? There are numerous ways:
- Social isolation: When you have a hard time hearing, you’ll probably experience some added challenges communicating. That can lead some individuals to isolate themselves. Once again, your brain is deprived of vital interaction which can result in memory problems. When those (metaphorical) muscles aren’t used, they start to deteriorate. Social isolation, depression, and memory issues will, over time, set in.
- An abundance of quiet: Things will become quieter when your hearing starts to wane (particularly if your hearing loss goes unnoticed and untreated). For the regions of your brain that interprets sound, this can be quite 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.
- Constant strain: Your brain will experience a hyper-activation fatigue, especially in the early stages of hearing loss. This happens because, even though there’s no external input signal, your brain struggles to hear what’s taking place in the world (it puts in a lot of energy trying to hear because without recognizing you have hearing loss, it believes that everything is quiet). Your brain as well as your body will be left fatigued. 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 unique to hearing loss, of course. There are plenty of things that can cause your recollections to begin to get fuzzy, and that includes fatigue and illness (either physical or mental varieties). As an example, eating right and sleeping well can help help your memory.
In this way, memory is sort of like the canary in the coal mine for your body. Your brain begins to raise red flags 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.
Loss of Memory Frequently Indicates Hearing Loss
It’s frequently difficult to recognize the early symptoms and signs of hearing loss. Hearing loss doesn’t happen instantly. Once you actually notice the associated symptoms, the damage to your hearing tends to be farther along than most hearing specialists would like. However, if you begin identifying symptoms related to memory loss and get an exam early, there’s a good possibility you can avoid 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, the first step is to treat the root hearing problem. When your brain stops struggling and straining, it’ll be capable of returning to its normal activities. It can take a few months for your brain to get used to hearing again, so be patient.
Loss of memory can be a practical warning that you need to pay attention to the state of your hearing and safeguarding your ears. As the years start to add up, that’s definitely a lesson worth remembering.