Last night, did you turn up the volume on your TV? It may be a sign of hearing loss if so. The problem is… you can’t quite remember. And that’s been occurring more often, also. While working yesterday, you weren’t able to remember your new co-worker’s name. You met her recently, but even so, it feels like you’re losing your grip on your memory and your hearing. And there’s only one common denominator you can think of: you’re getting older.
Now, absolutely, age can be related to both hearing loss and memory malfunction. But it turns out these two age-associated conditions are also related to each other. At first, that may sound like bad news (you have to deal with memory loss and hearing loss together…great). But there can be hidden positives to this connection.
The Relationship Between Memory And Hearing Loss
Hearing loss can be straining for your brain in numerous ways long 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 does a deficiency of your ear impact such a large part of your brain? Well, there are several specific ways:
- Constant strain: In the early stages of hearing loss especially, your brain is going to experience a sort of hyper-activation exhaustion. This occurs because, even though there’s no actual input signal, your brain strains to hear what’s taking place in the world (your brain doesn’t know that you’re experiencing loss of hearing, it just thinks things are really quiet, so it gives a lot of effort attempting to hear in that silent environment). This can leave your brain (and your body) feeling tired. That mental and physical fatigue often leads to memory loss.
- It’s getting quieter: Things will become quieter when your hearing starts to diminish (this is particularly true if your hearing loss is neglected). This can be, well, rather boring for the region of your brain usually responsible for interpreting sounds. This boredom might not appear to be a serious problem, but disuse can actually cause portions of your brain to atrophy or weaken. That can lead to a certain amount of generalized stress, which can interfere with your memory.
- Social isolation: When you have a hard time hearing, you’ll likely encounter some extra struggles communicating. That can lead some people to isolate themselves. And isolation can lead to memory problems because, again, your brain isn’t getting as much interaction as it used to. When those (metaphorical) muscles aren’t used, they start to deteriorate. Social isolation, depression, and memory issues will, over time, set in.
Loss of memory is an Early Warning System For Your Body
Memory loss isn’t exclusive to hearing loss, naturally. Mental or physical illness or fatigue, among other things, can trigger memory loss. As an example, eating right and sleeping well can help improve your memory.
This can be an example of your body throwing up red flags. The red flags come out when things aren’t working right. And one of those red flags is forgetting what your friend said yesterday.
But these warnings can help you know when things are starting to go wrong with your hearing.
Loss of Memory Often Indicates Hearing Loss
The signs and symptoms of hearing loss can frequently be hard to notice. Hearing loss doesn’t develop instantly. Harm to your hearing is usually further along than you would like by the time you actually notice the symptoms. But if you have your hearing checked soon after detecting some memory loss, you may be able to catch the problem early.
Getting Your Memories Back
In cases where hearing loss has impacted your memory, whether it’s through social separation or mental exhaustion, treatment of your root hearing problem is the first step in treatment. When your brain stops overworking and straining, it’ll be capable of returning to its regular activities. It can take several months for your brain to get used to hearing again, so be patient.
The red flags 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 begin to add up, that’s definitely a lesson worth remembering.