Last night, did you turn the volume up 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 happening more often, too. While working yesterday, you weren’t able to remember your new co-worker’s name. You just met her, but still, it seems like you’re losing your grip on your memory and your hearing. And as you rack your brains, you can only come up with one common cause: you’re getting older.
Certainly, both hearing and memory can be impacted by age. But it’s even more significant that these two can also be linked to each other. At first, that may sound like bad news (you have to deal with hearing loss and memory loss at the same time…great). But there can be hidden positives to this relationship.
Memory And Hearing Loss – What’s The Connection?
Hearing loss can be taxing for your brain in numerous ways well before you’re aware of the diminishing prowess of your ears. 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:
- Social isolation: Communication will become harder when you have a hard time hearing. Social isolation will often be the consequence, And isolation can result in memory problems because, again, your brain isn’t getting as much interaction as it used to. The brain will keep getting weaker the less it’s used. Eventually, social isolation can lead to depression, anxiety, and memory issues.
- Constant strain: Your brain will go through a hyper-activation fatigue, especially 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 know that you’re experiencing hearing loss, it just thinks things are really quiet, so it gives a lot of effort trying to hear in that silent environment). This can leave your brain (and your body) feeling exhausted. That mental and physical fatigue often leads to memory loss.
- An abundance of quiet: As your hearing starts to waver, you’re going to experience more quietness (particularly if your hearing loss is overlooked 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 impact the performance of all of your brain’s systems and that includes memory.
Loss of memory is an Early Warning System For Your Body
Memory loss isn’t exclusive to hearing loss, of course. Mental or physical illness or fatigue, among other things, can cause memory loss. Eating better and sleeping well, for instance, can often improve your memory.
Consequently, memory is kind of like the canary in the coal mine for your body. The red flags come out when things aren’t working properly. And one of those red flags is forgetting what your friend said yesterday.
Those red flags can be useful if you’re attempting to keep an eye out for hearing loss.
Loss of Memory Often Points to Hearing Loss
It’s frequently hard to recognize the early symptoms and signs of hearing loss. Hearing loss is one of those slow-moving conditions. Harm to your hearing is often further along than you would want by the time you actually observe the symptoms. However, if you start noticing symptoms related to memory loss and get checked out early, there’s a strong 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 isolation or mental exhaustion, treatment of your underlying hearing issue is step one in treatment. When your brain stops struggling and straining, it’ll be capable of returning to its normal activities. Be patient, it can take a while 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 protecting your ears. That’s a lesson to remember as you get older.