Did you turn the TV up last night? If so, it could be an indication of hearing loss. But you can’t quite remember and that’s a problem. And that’s been occurring more frequently, too. While working yesterday, you couldn’t even remember your new co-worker’s name. You just met her, 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, sure, age can be related to both loss of hearing and memory failure. But it turns out these two age-associated symptoms are also linked to one another. At first, that may seem like bad news (you have to cope with memory loss and hearing loss at the same time…great). But the reality is, the connection between hearing loss and memory can often be a blessing in disguise.
The Link Between Memory And Hearing Loss
Your brain begins to get taxed from hearing impairment before you even know you have it. Your brain, memory, and even social life can, over time, be overwhelmed by the “spillover”.
How is so much of your brain impacted by hearing loss? There are several ways:
- Social isolation: When you have difficulty hearing, you’ll probably experience some additional challenges communicating. Social isolation will often be the consequence, Once again, your brain is deprived of vital interaction which can bring about memory problems. The brain will continue to weaken the less it’s used. In the long run, social separation can cause depression, anxiety, and memory issues.
- An abundance of quiet: As your hearing begins to diminish, you’re going to experience more quietness (particularly if your hearing loss goes unnoticed and neglected). For the parts of your brain that interprets sound, this can be quite dull. This boredom may not seem like a serious problem, but disuse can actually cause parts of your brain to atrophy or weaken. That can cause a certain degree of generalized stress, which can interfere with your memory.
- Constant strain: Your brain will go through a hyper-activation fatigue, especially in the early phases 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 (your brain doesn’t recognize that you’re experiencing loss of hearing, it just thinks things are very quiet, so it devotes a lot of energy attempting to hear in that quiet environment). Your brain and your body will be left fatigued. That mental and physical fatigue often causes memory loss.
Loss of memory is an Early Warning System For Your Body
Clearly, having hearing loss isn’t the only thing that leads to memory loss. Physical or mental illness or fatigue, among other things, can cause loss of memory. As an example, eating healthy and sleeping well can help improve 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 one of those red flags is failing to remember what your friend said yesterday.
But these warnings can help you recognize when things are starting to go wrong with your hearing.
Hearing Loss is Often Related to Memory Loss
The signs and symptoms of hearing impairment can frequently be difficult to notice. Hearing loss doesn’t develop over night. Damage to your hearing is usually further along than you would want by the time you actually observe the symptoms. However, if you start to notice symptoms connected to memory loss and get checked out early, there’s a good possibility you can prevent some damage to your hearing.
Getting Your Memories Back
In situations where your memory has already been impacted by hearing loss, whether it’s through social separation or mental fatigue, the first step is to treat the root hearing problem. The brain will be capable of getting back to its normal activity when it stops straining and struggling. It can take a few months for your brain to get used to hearing again, so be patient.
The warning signs raised by your memory loss could help you be a little more aware of protecting your hearing, or at least managing your hearing loss. That’s a lesson to remember as you get older.