Did you turn up the TV last night? It may be a sign of hearing loss if you did. But you can’t quite remember and that’s an issue. And that’s been happening more often, too. While you were working yesterday, you weren’t able to 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 as you rack your brains, you can only formulate one common cause: aging.
Now, absolutely, age can be related to both hearing loss and memory failure. But it’s even more relevant that these two can also be related to each other. That may sound like bad news initially (you have to deal with hearing loss and memory loss together…great). But there can be hidden positives to this relationship.
Memory And Hearing Loss – What’s The Relationship?
Your brain starts to become taxed from hearing loss before you even know you have it. Though the “spillover” effects may start out small, over time they can expand, encompassing your brain, your memory, even your social life.
How does a deficiency of your ear affect so much of your brain? There are several ways:
- Constant strain: Your brain will go through a hyper-activation fatigue, particularly in the early stages 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 know that you’re experiencing loss of hearing, it just thinks things are really quiet, so it gives a lot of effort attempting to hear in that quiet environment). Your brain and your body will be left fatigued. That mental and physical fatigue often results in loss of memory.
- An abundance of quiet: Things will get quieter when your hearing starts to diminish (this is particularly true if your hearing loss is neglected). This can be, well, rather boring for the parts of your brain usually responsible for the interpretation of sounds. This boredom might not appear to be a serious issue, but lack of use can actually cause portions of your brain to atrophy or weaken. That can lead to a certain degree of overall stress, which can impact your memory.
- Social isolation: Communication will become harder when you have a hard time hearing. That can lead some people to isolate themselves. Again, your brain is lacking vital interaction which can bring about memory issues. The brain will keep getting weaker the less it’s used. In the long run, social isolation can cause depression, anxiety, and memory problems.
Memory Loss is an Early Warning System For Your Body
Clearly, having hearing loss isn’t the only thing that leads to memory loss. There are plenty of things that can cause your memories to begin getting fuzzy, including illness or fatigue (either mental or physical forms). Eating better and sleeping well, for example, can usually improve your memory.
Consequently, 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.
Those red flags can be useful if you’re trying to keep an eye out for hearing loss.
Hearing Loss is Frequently Connected to Memory Loss
The symptoms and signs of hearing impairment can frequently be hard to recognize. Hearing loss doesn’t happen instantly. Once you actually recognize the associated symptoms, the damage to your hearing tends to be more advanced than most hearing specialists would like. However, if you start identifying symptoms associated with memory loss and get checked out early, there’s a strong chance you can prevent some damage to your hearing.
Retrieving Your Memory
In situations where hearing loss has impacted your memory, whether it’s through social separation or mental fatigue, the first step is to manage the underlying hearing issue. When your brain stops overworking and straining, it’ll be capable of returning to its regular activities. It can take several months for your brain to re-adjust to hearing again, so be patient.
Loss of memory can be a practical warning that you need to keep your eye on the state of your hearing and safeguarding your ears. That’s a lesson to remember as you get older.