Last night, did you turn up the volume on your TV? It might be an indication of hearing loss if you did. But you can’t quite remember and that’s a problem. And that’s been happening more often, too. You couldn’t even remember the name of your new co-worker when you were at work yesterday. Yes, you just met her but your memory and your hearing seem to be declining. And as you rack your brains, you can only formulate one common cause: you’re getting older.
Certainly, both memory and hearing can be affected by age. But it’s even more significant that these two can also be connected to each other. That may sound like bad news at first (you have to deal with hearing loss and memory loss together…great). But there can be unseen positives to this relationship.
The Link Between Memory And Hearing Loss
Hearing loss can be taxing for your brain in a number of ways well before you’re aware of the diminishing prowess of your ears. 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 several ways:
- Constant strain: Your brain will go through a hyper-activation fatigue, especially in the early stages of hearing loss. This occurs because, even though there’s no external input signal, your brain struggles to hear what’s going on in the world (it devotes a lot of energy trying to hear because without recognizing you have hearing loss, it thinks that everything is quiet). This can leave your brain (and your body) feeling tired. Memory loss and other issues can be the result.
- Social isolation: When you have trouble hearing, you’ll probably encounter some extra obstacles communicating. That can push some people to seclude themselves. Again, your brain is deprived of vital interaction which can lead to memory issues. The brain will continue to weaken the less it’s used. Social isolation, depression, and memory issues will, over time, set in.
- It’s becoming quieter: As your hearing starts to diminish, you’re going to experience more quietness (particularly if your hearing loss goes unnoticed and neglected). For the regions of your brain that interprets sound, this can be rather dull. This boredom might not appear to be a serious issue, but lack of use can actually cause parts of your brain to weaken and atrophy. This can interfere with the function of all of your brain’s systems including memory.
Your Body Has An Early Warning System – It’s Called Memory Loss
Clearly, having hearing loss isn’t the only thing that leads to memory loss. There are plenty of things that can cause your recollections to start getting fuzzy, such as fatigue and illness (either mental or physical varieties). Eating better and sleeping well, for instance, can generally increase your memory.
This can be a case of your body putting up red flags. The red flags come out when things aren’t working right. And having difficulty recalling who said what in yesterday’s meeting is one of those red flags.
But these warnings can help you recognize when things are beginning to go wrong with your hearing.
Hearing Loss is Often Linked to Loss of Memory
It’s frequently hard to recognize the early symptoms and signs of hearing loss. Hearing loss doesn’t develop over night. Once you actually recognize the corresponding symptoms, the damage to your hearing is usually farther along than most hearing specialists would want. However, if you start identifying symptoms associated with memory loss and get an exam early, there’s a strong chance you can avoid some damage to your hearing.
Getting Your Memories Back
In situations where your memory has already been affected by hearing loss, either via mental fatigue or social separation, the first step is to treat the root hearing issue. When your brain stops overworking and straining, it’ll be capable of returning to its regular activities. Be patient, it can take a while for your brain to get used to hearing again.
Loss of memory can be a practical warning that you need to pay attention to the state of your hearing and protecting your ears. That’s a lesson to remember as you get older.