Did you turn up the TV last night? If you did, it could be an indication of hearing loss. But you can’t quite remember and that’s a problem. And that’s been happening more frequently, also. You couldn’t even remember what your new co-worker’s name was when you were at work yesterday. You met her recently, but still, it seems like you’re losing your grip on your hearing and your memory. And there’s only one common denominator you can find: aging.
Certainly, both memory and hearing can be affected by age. But it turns out these two age-associated conditions are also related to one another. At first, that might sound like bad news (you have to deal with hearing loss and memory loss together…great). But the reality is, the link between memory and hearing loss can often be a blessing in disguise.
Memory And Hearing Loss – What’s The Relationship?
Your brain starts to become strained from hearing impairment before you even realize 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: In the early phases of hearing loss especially, your brain is going to experience a kind of hyper-activation fatigue. That’s because your brain will be straining to hear what’s going on out in the world, even though there’s no input signal (your brain doesn’t know that you’re experiencing loss of hearing, it just thinks external sounds are very quiet, so it gives a lot of energy trying to hear in that silent environment). Your brain and your body will be left fatigued. Memory loss and other problems can be the result.
- Social isolation: When you have a hard time hearing, you’ll likely encounter some added obstacles communicating. Social isolation will frequently be the outcome, Once again, your brain is deprived of vital interaction which can bring about memory problems. When those (metaphorical) muscles aren’t engaged, they begin to weaken. Eventually, social separation can lead to anxiety, depression, and memory issues.
- It’s becoming quieter: As your hearing starts to diminish, you’re going to experience more quietness (particularly if your hearing loss is overlooked and neglected). For the regions of your brain that interprets sound, this can be quite dull. And if the brain isn’t used it starts to weaken and atrophy. That can lead to a certain amount of generalized stress, which can impact your memory.
Memory Loss is an Early Warning System For Your Body
Clearly, having hearing loss isn’t the only thing that causes memory loss. There are plenty of things that can cause your memories to begin getting fuzzy, such as fatigue and illness (either physical or mental forms). As an example, eating right and sleeping well can help help your memory.
In this way, memory is kind of like the canary in the coal mine for your body. The red flags come out 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 watch out for hearing loss.
Memory Loss Frequently Points to Hearing Loss
The symptoms and signs of hearing loss can frequently be difficult to notice. Hearing loss is one of those slowly advancing conditions. Once you actually recognize the associated symptoms, the damage to your hearing is usually farther along than most hearing specialists would like. However, if you begin noticing symptoms related to memory loss and get checked out early, there’s a good chance you can prevent some damage to your hearing.
Retrieving Your Memory
In situations where your memory has already been impacted by hearing loss, whether it’s through social isolation or mental fatigue, treatment of your underlying hearing problem is the first step in treatment. The brain will be capable of getting back to its regular activity when it stops stressing and overworking. Be patient, it can take a bit for your brain to adjust to hearing again.
The warning signs raised by your memory loss could help you be a little more conscious about protecting your hearing, or at least managing your hearing loss. That’s a lesson to remember as you get older.