Did you turn up the TV last night? If so, it may be a sign of hearing loss. The challenge is… you can’t quite remember. And that’s starting become more of a problem recently. 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 memory and your hearing. And there’s only one common denominator you can come up with: you’re getting older.
Now, sure, age can be connected to both hearing loss and memory malfunction. But it turns out these two age-associated conditions are also related to each other. At first, that might seem like bad news (you have to deal with hearing loss and memory loss together…great). But there can be unseen positives to this relationship.
The Connection Between Memory And Hearing Loss
Hearing impairment can be straining for your brain in a number of ways well before you’re aware of the decrease in your hearing. 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 such a large part of your brain? Well, there are several different ways:
- Constant strain: In the early phases of hearing loss especially, your brain is going to experience a sort 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 recognize that you’re experiencing hearing loss, it just thinks things are very quiet, so it devotes a lot of energy trying to hear in that quiet environment). This can leave your brain (and your body) feeling fatigued. That mental and physical exhaustion often causes loss of memory.
- It’s becoming quieter: Things will get quieter when your hearing starts to diminish (this is especially true if your hearing loss is neglected). For the parts 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 cause a certain degree of overall stress, which can hinder your memory.
- Social isolation: When you have trouble hearing, you’ll probably encounter some extra challenges communicating. Social isolation will frequently be the consequence, Once again, your brain is lacking vital interaction which can lead to memory problems. When those (metaphorical) muscles aren’t used, they begin to deteriorate. In the long run, social separation can cause depression, anxiety, and memory problems.
Your Body Has An Early Warning System – It’s Called Memory Loss
Clearly, having hearing loss isn’t the only thing that causes memory loss. Mental or physical fatigue or illness, among other things, can trigger memory loss. As an example, eating right and sleeping well can help improve your memory.
This can be an example of your body throwing up red flags. Your brain starts raising red flags when things aren’t working precisely. And having trouble recalling who said what in yesterday’s meeting is one of those red flags.
But these warnings can help you recognize when things are starting to go wrong with your hearing.
Hearing Loss is Often Linked to Loss of Memory
The signs and symptoms of hearing impairment can frequently be hard to detect. Hearing loss is one of those slowly advancing conditions. Damage to your hearing is often worse than you would want by the time you actually observe the symptoms. However, if you start noticing symptoms associated with memory loss and get checked out early, there’s a good possibility you can prevent some damage to your hearing.
Retrieving Your Memory
In cases where hearing loss has impacted your memory, either via mental fatigue or social separation, treatment of your underlying hearing problem is the first step in treatment. When your brain stops struggling and over stressing, it’ll be able to return to its normal activities. It can take a few months for your brain to get used to hearing again, so be patient.
The red flags raised by your loss of memory could help you be a little more aware of protecting your hearing, or at least treating your hearing loss. As the years start to add up, that’s definitely a lesson worth remembering.