Last night, did you turn up the volume on your TV? It may be an indication of hearing loss if so. The challenge is… you can’t quite remember. And that’s becoming more of an issue recently. While working yesterday, you couldn’t even remember your new co-worker’s name. You just met her, but still, it feels like you’re losing your grip on your memory and your hearing. And as you rack your brains, you can only formulate one common cause: you’re getting older.
Certainly, both memory and hearing can be affected by age. But it’s even more relevant that these two can also be linked to each other. At first, that may seem like bad news (not only do you have to cope with hearing loss, you have to manage your failing memory too, wonderful). But there can be unseen positives to this relationship.
The Connection Between Memory And Hearing Loss
Hearing impairment 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 does a deficiency of your ear affect such a large part of your brain? There are several ways:
- It’s becoming quieter: Things will become quieter when your hearing begins to wane (this is especially true if your hearing loss is neglected). This can be, well, kind of boring for the parts of your brain normally responsible for the interpretation of sounds. This boredom might not seem like a serious problem, but disuse can actually cause portions of your brain to atrophy or weaken. That can result in a certain degree of overall stress, which can interfere with your memory.
- Constant strain: Your brain will undergo a hyper-activation fatigue, especially in the early stages of hearing loss. This happens because, even though there’s no actual input signal, your brain strains to hear what’s going on in the world (your brain doesn’t know that you’re experiencing hearing loss, it just thinks external sounds are really quiet, so it gives a lot of effort trying to hear in that quiet environment). This can leave your brain (and your body) feeling tired. That mental and physical exhaustion often leads to loss of memory.
- Social isolation: When you have a hard time hearing, you’ll probably experience some additional struggles communicating. That can lead some people to seclude themselves. Once again, your brain is lacking vital interaction which can bring about memory issues. The brain will continue to weaken the less it’s used. Social isolation, depression, and memory issues will, over time, set in.
Memory Loss is an Early Warning System For Your Body
Clearly, having hearing loss isn’t the only thing that triggers memory loss. There are plenty of things that can cause your memories to start getting fuzzy, including fatigue and illness (either mental or physical varieties). As an example, eating healthy and sleeping well can help help your memory.
This can be an example of your body putting up red flags. The red flags go up when things aren’t working properly. And having trouble recollecting who said what in yesterday’s meeting is one of those red flags.
Those red flags can be useful if you’re trying to watch out for hearing loss.
Loss of Memory Frequently Points to Hearing Loss
The symptoms and signs of hearing loss can often be hard to detect. Hearing loss is one of those slowly advancing afflictions. Once you actually notice the corresponding symptoms, the damage to your hearing is generally farther along than most hearing specialists would want. However, if you begin identifying symptoms related to memory loss and get checked out early, there’s a good chance you can avoid some damage to your hearing.
Retrieving Your Memory
In situations where your memory has already been impacted by hearing loss, either via mental fatigue or social isolation, treatment of your underlying hearing issue is step one in treatment. The brain will be able to get back to its normal activity when it stops stressing and struggling. Be patient, it can take a bit for your brain to adjust to hearing again.
Loss of memory can be a practical warning that you need to pay attention to the state of your hearing and protecting your ears. That’s a lesson to remember as you get older.