Last night, did you turn up the volume on your TV? It may be a sign of hearing loss if so. But you can’t quite remember and that’s a problem. And that’s starting become more of a problem recently. While working yesterday, you weren’t able to remember your new co-worker’s name. Yes, you just met her but your memory and your hearing seem to be faltering. And as you think about it, you can only come up with one common cause: aging.
Certainly, both memory and hearing can be impacted by age. But it’s even more relevant that these two can also be linked to each other. That may sound like bad news initially (you have to cope with memory loss and hearing loss at the same time…great). But the reality is, the connection between hearing loss and memory can often be a blessing in disguise.
Memory And Hearing Loss – What’s The Link?
Your brain starts to become strained from hearing loss 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 loss of hearing? There are numerous ways:
- Constant strain: Your brain will go through a hyper-activation fatigue, especially in the early phases 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 (it puts in a lot of energy trying to hear because without recognizing you have hearing loss, it thinks that everything is quiet). Your brain as well as your body will be left exhausted. Memory loss and other issues can be the result.
- Social isolation: When you have a hard time hearing, you’ll likely encounter some added challenges communicating. Social isolation will commonly be the result, 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. Eventually, social separation can cause depression, anxiety, and memory issues.
- It’s becoming quieter: As your hearing begins to diminish, you’re going to experience more quietness (particularly if your hearing loss goes unnoticed and untreated). This can be, well, kind of boring for the region of your brain usually responsible for interpreting sounds. This boredom might not appear to be a serious problem, but lack of use can actually cause parts of your brain to atrophy or weaken. This can impact the performance of all of your brain’s systems including memory.
Your Body Has An Early Warning System – It’s Called Memory Loss
Memory loss isn’t exclusive to hearing loss, naturally. There are plenty of things that can cause your recollections to begin to get fuzzy, including fatigue and illness (either physical or mental varieties). As an example, eating right and sleeping well can help improve your memory.
Consequently, memory is sort of like the canary in the coal mine for your body. The red flags go up when things aren’t working right. And having a hard time recalling who said what in yesterday’s meeting is one of those red flags.
But these warnings can help you recognize when things are starting to go wrong with your hearing.
Loss of Memory Often Points to Hearing Loss
It’s often hard to recognize the early signs and symptoms of hearing loss. Hearing loss doesn’t happen instantly. Once you actually recognize the corresponding symptoms, the damage to your hearing is generally farther along than most hearing specialists would like. But if you have your hearing tested soon after detecting some memory loss, you may be able to catch the problem early.
Retrieving Your Memory
In situations where your memory has already been affected by hearing loss, whether it’s through social separation or mental fatigue, the first step is to manage the root hearing issue. When your brain stops overworking 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 keep your eye on the state of your hearing and safeguarding your ears. That’s a lesson to remember as you get older.