Did you turn the TV up last night? If you did, it may be a sign of hearing loss. But you can’t quite remember and that’s a problem. And that’s starting become more of a problem 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 even so, it feels like you’re losing your grip on your hearing and your memory. And there’s just one common denominator you can find: aging.
Now, sure, age can be connected to both loss of hearing and memory malfunction. But it’s even more relevant that these two can also be related to each other. At first, that may sound like bad news (you have to deal with memory loss and hearing loss at the same time…great). But there can be unseen positives to this relationship.
Memory And Hearing Loss – What’s The Connection?
Your brain begins to get strained from hearing loss before you even realize you have it. Your brain, memory, and even social life can, over time, be overwhelmed by the “spillover”.
How does a deficiency of your ear impact such a large part of your brain? Well, there are a few different ways:
- Constant strain: In the early stages of hearing loss especially, your brain is going to experience a type of hyper-activation fatigue. That’s because your brain will be struggling to hear what’s going on out in the world, even though there’s no input signal (your brain doesn’t know that you’re experiencing loss of hearing, it just thinks external sounds are really quiet, so it devotes a lot of energy trying to hear in that quiet environment). Your brain as well as your body will be left exhausted. Memory loss and other issues can be the outcome.
- It’s becoming quieter: Things will become quieter when your hearing begins to wane (this is particularly true if your hearing loss is neglected). For the parts of your brain that interprets sound, this can be quite dull. This boredom might not seem like a serious problem, but disuse can actually cause portions of your brain to atrophy or weaken. This can interfere with the performance of all of your brain’s systems including memory.
- Social isolation: When you have difficulty hearing, you’ll likely encounter some added challenges communicating. Social isolation will often be the outcome, Once again, your brain is deprived of vital interaction which can lead to memory problems. The brain will keep getting weaker the less it’s used. Social isolation, depression, and memory problems will, over time, set in.
Your Body Has An Early Warning System – It’s Called Memory Loss
Memory loss isn’t exclusive to hearing loss, naturally. Physical or mental illness or fatigue, among other things, can trigger memory loss. Eating better and sleeping well, for instance, can usually increase your memory.
This can be a case of your body putting up red flags. The red flags go up when things aren’t working right. And one of those red flags is failing to remember what your friend said yesterday.
But these warnings can help you recognize when things are beginning to go wrong with your hearing.
Hearing Loss is Commonly Linked to Memory Loss
The symptoms and signs of hearing loss can often be difficult to notice. Hearing loss doesn’t happen over night. Once you actually recognize the associated symptoms, the damage to your hearing is generally farther along than most hearing specialists would want. But if you get your hearing checked soon after detecting some memory loss, you might be able to catch the problem early.
Retrieving Your Memory
In situations where hearing loss has impacted your memory, either via mental fatigue or social isolation, treatment of your root hearing issue is the first step in treatment. When your brain stops overworking and straining, it’ll be able to return to its regular activities. Be patient, it can take a while for your brain to adjust to hearing again.
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. That’s a lesson to remember as you get older.