Last night, did you turn up the volume on your TV? It might be an indication of hearing loss if so. The problem is… you can’t quite remember. And that’s been happening more often, too. While 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 come up with one common cause: you’re getting older.
Now, absolutely, age can be connected to both hearing loss and memory failure. But it’s even more relevant that these two can also be linked to each other. That may sound like bad news at first (not only do you have to deal with hearing loss, you have to work around your failing memory too, wonderful). But the truth is, the connection between memory and hearing loss can often be a blessing in disguise.
The Link Between Memory And Hearing Loss
Your brain begins to get taxed from hearing loss 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? Well, there are a number of specific ways:
- It’s getting quieter: As your hearing starts to waver, you’re going to experience more quietness (especially if your hearing loss is overlooked and neglected). This can be, well, rather boring for the parts of your brain normally responsible for the interpretation of sounds. And if the brain isn’t used it starts to weaken and atrophy. That can result in a certain amount of overall stress, which can impact your memory.
- Constant strain: Your brain will experience 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 (it devotes 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 tired. That mental and physical exhaustion often leads to loss of memory.
- Social isolation: Communication will become harder when you have a difficult time hearing. That can lead some individuals to isolate themselves. Again, your brain is lacking vital interaction which can result in memory problems. The brain will keep getting weaker the less it’s used. In the long run, social isolation can result in anxiety, depression, and memory issues.
Loss of memory is an Early Warning System For Your Body
Obviously, having hearing loss isn’t the only thing that causes memory loss. Physical or mental illness or fatigue, among other things, can cause loss of memory. As an example, eating right and sleeping well can help improve your memory.
In this way, memory is kind of like the canary in the coal mine for your body. The red flags go up when things aren’t working properly. And one of those red flags is failing to remember what your friend said yesterday.
But these warnings can help you know when things are starting to go wrong with your hearing.
Memory Loss Frequently Points to Hearing Loss
The signs and symptoms of hearing loss can frequently be hard to recognize. Hearing loss doesn’t develop instantly. Once you actually notice the associated symptoms, the damage to your hearing is usually more advanced than most hearing specialists would like. However, if you start to notice symptoms associated with memory loss and get an exam early, there’s a good chance you can avoid some damage to your hearing.
Retrieving Your Memory
In cases where hearing loss has impacted your memory, whether it’s through social separation or mental exhaustion, the first step is to treat the root hearing issue. The brain will be capable of getting back to its normal activity when it stops straining and overworking. It can take several months for your brain to re-adjust to hearing again, so be patient.
The red flags raised by your memory loss could help you be a little more aware of protecting your hearing, or at least treating your hearing loss. As the years start to add up, that’s definitely a lesson worth remembering.