Last night, did you turn the volume up on your TV? If so, it might be an indication of hearing loss. The challenge is… you can’t quite remember. And that’s starting become more of an issue recently. While you were working yesterday, you couldn’t even remember your new co-worker’s name. You met her recently, but even so, it seems like you’re losing your grip on your memory and your hearing. And there’s just one common denominator you can think of: you’re getting older.
Certainly, both memory and hearing can be impacted 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 deal with loss of hearing, you have to manage your waning memory too, wonderful). But there can be hidden positives to this relationship.
Memory And Hearing Loss – What’s The Relationship?
Your brain begins to get strained 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 loss of hearing? There are numerous ways:
- Constant strain: Your brain will undergo a hyper-activation fatigue, especially in the early phases of hearing loss. This occurs because, even though there’s no actual input signal, your brain struggles to hear what’s taking place in the world (your brain doesn’t recognize that you’re experiencing loss of hearing, it just thinks things are really quiet, so it gives a lot of energy attempting to hear in that quiet environment). Your brain and your body will be left fatigued. Loss of memory and other issues can be the result.
- Social isolation: When you have trouble hearing, you’ll probably experience some extra obstacles communicating. That can lead some people to seclude themselves. Once again, your brain is lacking vital interaction which can lead to memory issues. When those (metaphorical) muscles aren’t used, they begin to deteriorate. In the long run, social isolation can result in anxiety, depression, and memory issues.
- It’s becoming quieter: As your hearing begins to diminish, you’re going to experience more quietness (this is especially true if your hearing loss is neglected). For the regions of your brain that interprets sound, this can be quite dull. This boredom might not appear to be a serious problem, but lack of use can actually cause portions of your brain to atrophy or weaken. This can impact the function of all of your brain’s systems including memory.
Loss of memory is an Early Warning System For Your Body
Memory loss isn’t exclusive to hearing loss, of course. Mental or physical fatigue or illness, among other things, can cause memory loss. Eating better and sleeping well, for example, can generally increase 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 one of those red flags is forgetting what your friend said yesterday.
Those red flags can be useful if you’re trying to watch out for hearing loss.
Hearing Loss is Often Connected to Memory Loss
It’s often difficult to recognize the early signs and symptoms of hearing loss. Hearing loss doesn’t develop over night. Once you actually recognize the associated symptoms, the damage to your hearing tends to be more advanced than most hearing specialists would want. However, if you begin to notice symptoms related to memory loss and get an exam early, there’s a good possibility you can avoid some damage to your hearing.
Retrieving Your Memory
In instances where hearing loss has impacted your memory, whether it’s through social separation or mental fatigue, the first task is to treat the root hearing issue. The brain will be able to get back to its normal activity when it stops straining and overworking. It can take a few months for your brain to re-adjust to hearing again, so be patient.
The warning signs raised by your loss of memory 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.