Did you turn the TV up last night? It might be an indication of hearing loss if you did. The problem is… you can’t quite remember. And that’s starting become more of an issue recently. You couldn’t even remember what your new co-worker’s name was when you were at work yesterday. Yes, you just met her but your hearing and your memory seem to be faltering. And there’s just one common denominator you can come up with: aging.
Now, absolutely, age can be connected to both loss of hearing and memory malfunction. But it’s even more relevant that these two can also be linked to each other. That might sound like bad news at first (you have to cope with memory loss and hearing loss at the same time…great). But there can be hidden positives to this relationship.
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 does a deficiency of your hearing affect so much of your brain? Well, there are a number of specific ways:
- Social isolation: When you have a hard time hearing, you’ll probably experience some added challenges communicating. That can lead some individuals to seclude themselves. 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 engaged, they start to deteriorate. In the long run, social separation can cause anxiety, depression, and memory problems.
- Constant strain: Your brain will undergo a hyper-activation fatigue, particularly in the early stages of hearing loss. That’s because your brain will be struggling to hear what’s happening out in the world, even though there’s no input signal (it puts in a lot of energy trying to hear because without realizing you have hearing loss, it thinks that everything is quiet). This can leave your brain (and your body) feeling fatigued. That mental and physical exhaustion often causes loss of memory.
- It’s getting quieter: Things will get quieter when your hearing begins to diminish (this is particularly true if your hearing loss is neglected). For the regions of your brain that interprets sound, this can be quite dull. This boredom may not appear to be a serious problem, but disuse can actually cause portions of your brain to atrophy or weaken. This can impact the function of all of your brain’s systems and that includes memory.
Your Body Has An Early Warning System – It’s Called Memory Loss
Memory loss isn’t exclusive to hearing loss, naturally. Physical or mental fatigue or illness, among other things, can cause loss of memory. Eating better and sleeping well, for example, can usually increase your memory.
This can be a case of your body putting up red flags. Your brain begins to raise red flags when things aren’t working precisely. And having trouble remembering who said what in yesterday’s meeting is one of those red flags.
Those red flags can be useful if you’re attempting to keep an eye out for hearing loss.
Loss of Memory Frequently Points to Hearing Loss
It’s frequently hard to detect the early signs and symptoms of hearing loss. Hearing loss is one of those slow-moving afflictions. Once you actually recognize the corresponding symptoms, the damage to your hearing tends to be farther along than most hearing specialists would want. But if you have your hearing tested soon after noticing some memory loss, you may be able to catch the issue early.
Getting Your Memories Back
In cases where hearing loss has impacted your memory, either via mental exhaustion or social separation, the first step is to manage the root hearing problem. When your brain stops struggling and straining, it’ll be able to return to its regular activities. It can take several months for your brain to get used to hearing again, so be patient.
Loss of memory can be a practical warning that you need to keep your eye on the state of your hearing and protecting your ears. As the years start to add up, that’s definitely a lesson worth remembering.