Did you turn up the TV last night? If so, it may be an indication of hearing loss. 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 memory and your hearing seem to be faltering. And there’s just one common denominator you can find: aging.
Now, absolutely, age can be related to both loss of hearing and memory failure. But it turns out these two age-associated conditions are also connected to each other. That may sound like bad news at first (not only do you have to deal with loss of hearing, you have to work around your waning memory too, wonderful). But there can be hidden positives to this relationship.
The Relationship Between Memory And Hearing Loss
Your brain begins to get strained from hearing impairment before you even realize 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 affected by loss of hearing? Well, there are a number of different ways:
- Social isolation: Communication will become strained when you have a difficult time hearing. That can push some individuals to isolate themselves. Again, your brain is deprived of vital interaction which can lead to memory problems. The brain will continue to weaken the less it’s used. In the long run, social separation can result in depression, anxiety, and memory issues.
- It’s getting quieter: Things will become quieter when your hearing begins to diminish (this is especially true if your hearing loss is neglected). This can be, well, kind of boring for the region of your brain normally responsible for interpreting sounds. This boredom might not appear to be a serious issue, but lack of use can actually cause portions of your brain to weaken and atrophy. That can cause a certain amount of overall stress, which can interfere with your memory.
- Constant strain: Your brain will go through a hyper-activation fatigue, particularly in the early phases of hearing loss. That’s because your brain will be struggling to hear what’s taking place out in the world, even though there’s no input signal (your brain doesn’t recognize that you’re experiencing hearing loss, it just thinks things are very 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 fatigue often results in memory loss.
Your Body Has An Early Warning System – It’s Called Memory Loss
Memory loss isn’t unique to hearing loss, naturally. Mental or physical fatigue or illness, among other things, can trigger memory loss. As an example, eating healthy and sleeping well can help improve your memory.
This can be an example of your body throwing 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.
But these warnings can help you recognize when things are beginning to go wrong with your hearing.
Hearing Loss is Commonly Connected to Memory Loss
It’s often hard to recognize the early symptoms and signs of hearing loss. Hearing loss doesn’t develop over night. Harm to your hearing is commonly worse than you would want by the time you actually notice the symptoms. However, if you begin to notice symptoms associated with memory loss and get an exam early, there’s a good chance you can prevent some damage to your hearing.
Getting Your Memories Back
In situations where hearing loss has affected your memory, either via mental fatigue or social isolation, treatment of your root hearing issue is step one in treatment. When your brain stops overworking and over stressing, it’ll be capable of returning to its regular activities. 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 safeguarding your ears. That’s a lesson to remember as you get older.