Last night, did you turn up the volume on your TV? If you did, it may be a sign of hearing loss. The problem is… you can’t quite remember. And that’s been occurring more often, also. While you were working yesterday, you weren’t able to remember your new co-worker’s name. You just met her, but even so, it seems like you’re losing your grip on your hearing and your memory. And as you think about it, you can only come up with one common cause: you’re getting older.
Now, absolutely, age can be connected to both loss of hearing and memory failure. But it turns out these two age-associated symptoms are also related to each other. At first, that may seem like bad news (not only do you have to cope with loss of hearing, you have to work around your failing memory too, wonderful). But the reality is, the relationship between memory and hearing loss can often be a blessing in disguise.
The Connection Between Memory And Hearing Loss
Your brain starts to become strained 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 is so much of your brain affected by loss of hearing? 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. This happens because, even though there’s no external input signal, your brain struggles to hear what’s taking place in the world (it puts in a lot of energy trying to hear because without recognizing you have hearing loss, it believes that everything is quiet). This can leave your brain (and your body) feeling fatigued. That mental and physical fatigue often results in loss of memory.
- It’s getting quieter: As your hearing starts to waver, 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 rather dull. And if the brain isn’t used it begins to weaken and atrophy. That can result in a certain amount of generalized stress, which can interfere with your memory.
- Social isolation: When you have trouble hearing, you’ll likely encounter some extra obstacles communicating. That can push some individuals to seclude 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. Social isolation, depression, and memory problems will, over time, develop.
Loss of memory is an Early Warning System For Your Body
Obviously, having hearing loss isn’t the only thing that leads to memory loss. Mental or physical illness or fatigue, among other things, can trigger memory loss. As an example, eating healthy and sleeping well can help improve your memory.
Consequently, memory is kind of like the canary in the coal mine for your body. The red flags come out when things aren’t working right. And having difficulty recollecting who said what in yesterday’s meeting is one of those red flags.
But these warnings can help you know when things are beginning to go wrong with your hearing.
Hearing Loss is Commonly Related to Loss of Memory
The symptoms and signs of hearing impairment can often be hard to detect. Hearing loss doesn’t develop instantly. Damage to your hearing is commonly further along than you would like by the time you actually notice the symptoms. However, if you begin to notice symptoms connected to memory loss and get an exam early, there’s a strong chance you can prevent some damage to your hearing.
Retrieving Your Memory
In instances where hearing loss has affected your memory, either via mental exhaustion or social separation, the first step is to deal with the root hearing problem. The brain will be able to get back to its normal activity when it stops stressing and overworking. Be patient, it can take a bit for your brain to get used to hearing again.
Memory loss can be a practical warning that you need to keep your eye on the state of your hearing and safeguarding your ears. As the years start to add up, that’s definitely a lesson worth remembering.