Did you turn up the TV last night? If so, it might be a sign of hearing loss. The challenge is… you can’t quite remember. And that’s been occurring more frequently, also. 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 feels like you’re losing your grip on your memory and your hearing. And there’s only one common denominator you can find: aging.
Now, sure, age can be related to both loss of hearing and memory failure. 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 cope with memory loss and hearing loss at the same time…great). But the truth is, the relationship between memory and hearing loss can often be a blessing in disguise.
Memory And Hearing Loss – What’s The Connection?
Hearing loss can be straining for your brain in numerous ways well before you recognize 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 affected by hearing loss? There are several ways:
- Constant strain: Your brain will experience a hyper-activation fatigue, particularly in the early phases 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 devotes a lot of energy trying to hear because without realizing you have hearing loss, it believes that everything is quiet). This can leave your brain (and your body) feeling fatigued. That mental and physical fatigue often causes loss of memory.
- Social isolation: When you have trouble hearing, you’ll probably encounter some added obstacles communicating. Social isolation will often be the result, And isolation can result in memory problems because, again, your brain isn’t getting as much interaction as it once did. When those (metaphorical) muscles aren’t used, they start to weaken. Social isolation, depression, and memory issues will, over time, develop.
- An abundance of quiet: Things will get quieter when your hearing starts to diminish (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 issue, but lack of use can actually cause portions of your brain to weaken and atrophy. This can interfere with the performance of all of your brain’s systems including memory.
Memory Loss is an Early Warning System For Your Body
Obviously, having hearing loss isn’t the only thing that causes memory loss. Physical or mental illness or fatigue, among other things, can cause loss of memory. As an example, eating right and sleeping well can help help your memory.
Consequently, memory is kind of like the canary in the coal mine for your body. Your brain begins to raise red flags when things aren’t working correctly. And one of those red flags is forgetting what your friend said yesterday.
Those red flags can be helpful if you’re trying to keep an eye out for hearing loss.
Hearing Loss is Often Connected to Loss of Memory
The signs and symptoms of hearing loss can frequently be hard to recognize. Hearing loss doesn’t develop instantly. Once you actually recognize the corresponding symptoms, the damage to your hearing is generally more advanced than most hearing specialists would want. But if you have your hearing checked soon after noticing some memory loss, you may be able to catch the problem early.
Retrieving Your Memory
In situations where your memory has already been impacted by hearing loss, whether it’s through social isolation or mental exhaustion, treatment of your root hearing issue is step one in treatment. The brain will be able to get back to its normal activity when it stops stressing and overworking. It can take a few months for your brain to re-adjust to hearing again, so be patient.
Memory loss can be a practical warning that you need to pay attention to the state of your hearing and protecting your ears. As the years begin to add up, that’s certainly a lesson worth remembering.