Last night, did you turn up the volume on your TV? It may be an indication of hearing loss if you did. But you can’t quite remember and that’s a problem. And that’s been occurring more frequently, also. While you were 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 declining. And as you rack your brains, you can only formulate one common cause: aging.
Now, sure, age can be connected to both hearing loss and memory failure. But it turns out these two age-associated symptoms are also connected to each other. That may sound like bad news at first (you have to deal with memory loss and hearing loss together…great). But the truth is, the link between hearing loss and memory can often be a blessing in disguise.
The Relationship Between Memory And Hearing Loss
Hearing loss can be taxing 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 does a deficiency of your ear impact so much of your brain? Well, there are several specific ways:
- Constant strain: Your brain will experience a hyper-activation fatigue, particularly in the early stages of hearing loss. 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 (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. That mental and physical exhaustion often causes memory loss.
- Social isolation: When you have difficulty hearing, you’ll likely encounter some additional obstacles communicating. Social isolation will frequently be the outcome, And isolation can result in memory issues because, once again, your brain isn’t getting as much interaction as it used to. When those (metaphorical) muscles aren’t engaged, they start to deteriorate. Eventually, social separation can lead to anxiety, depression, and memory issues.
- It’s getting quieter: As your hearing starts to waver, you’re going to experience more quietness (particularly if your hearing loss is overlooked and untreated). For the parts of your brain that interprets sound, this can be rather dull. This boredom might not seem like a serious issue, but lack of use can actually cause portions of your brain to atrophy or weaken. 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 unique to hearing loss, naturally. There are plenty of things that can cause your memories to begin getting fuzzy, such as illness or fatigue (either physical or mental forms). Eating better and sleeping well, for example, can usually improve your memory.
In this way, 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 recollecting who said what in yesterday’s meeting is one of those red flags.
But these warnings can help you know when things are starting to go wrong with your hearing.
Hearing Loss is Often Connected to Loss of Memory
It’s frequently difficult to detect the early symptoms and signs of hearing loss. Hearing loss doesn’t happen instantly. Once you actually notice the associated symptoms, the damage to your hearing is generally farther along than most hearing specialists would want. However, if you begin to notice symptoms connected to memory loss and get an exam early, there’s a good chance you can avoid some damage to your hearing.
Getting Your Memories Back
In instances where hearing loss has impacted your memory, whether it’s through social isolation or mental exhaustion, the first task is to treat the root hearing issue. The brain will be able to get back to its regular activity when it stops straining and overworking. Be patient, it can take a bit for your brain to get used to hearing again.
Loss of memory 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.