Did you turn up the TV last night? If you did, it might be a sign of hearing loss. The challenge is… you can’t quite remember. 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. Yes, you just met her but your hearing and your memory seem to be faltering. And as you rack your brains, you can only come up with one common cause: aging.
Certainly, both hearing and memory can be affected by age. But it’s even more relevant that these two can also be connected to each other. At first, that may seem like bad news (you have to cope with memory loss and hearing loss at the same time…great). But there can be hidden positives to this relationship.
The Relationship Between Memory And Hearing Loss
Hearing loss can be taxing for your brain in numerous ways well before you’re aware of the decrease in your hearing. 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? Well, there are a number of different ways:
- Social isolation: Communication will become harder when you have a difficult time hearing. Social isolation will often be the outcome, Once again, your brain is deprived of vital interaction which can bring about memory issues. When those (metaphorical) muscles aren’t used, they start to deteriorate. Social isolation, depression, and memory issues will, over time, develop.
- 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 happening out in the world, even though there’s no input signal (it puts in a lot of energy trying to hear because without recognizing you have hearing loss, it believes that everything is quiet). This can leave your brain (and your body) feeling tired. Memory loss and other problems can be the outcome.
- It’s getting quieter: Things will become quieter when your hearing starts to diminish (especially if your hearing loss is overlooked and neglected). This can be, well, kind of boring for the parts of your brain normally responsible for interpreting sounds. This boredom may not appear to be 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.
Your Body Has An Early Warning System – It’s Called Memory Loss
Obviously, having hearing loss isn’t the only thing that triggers memory loss. Mental or physical illness or fatigue, among other things, can cause loss of memory. As an example, eating right and sleeping well can help 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 right. And having a hard time remembering who said what in yesterday’s meeting is one of those red flags.
Those red flags can be useful if you’re attempting to keep an eye out for hearing loss.
Hearing Loss is Often Linked to Memory Loss
It’s frequently difficult to detect the early symptoms and signs of hearing loss. Hearing loss doesn’t happen over night. Damage to your hearing is commonly further along than you would like by the time you actually notice the symptoms. But if you have your hearing checked soon after noticing some memory loss, you may be able to catch the issue early.
Retrieving Your Memory
In situations where hearing loss has affected your memory, either via mental exhaustion or social isolation, treatment of your root hearing issue is step one in treatment. The brain will be able to get back to its regular activity when it stops straining and struggling. It can take several months for your brain to re-adjust to hearing again, so be patient.
The warning signs raised by your loss of memory could help you be a little more conscious about protecting your hearing, or at least treating your hearing loss. As the years start to add up, that’s definitely a lesson worth remembering.