Last night, did you turn the volume up on your TV? If you did, it could be an indication of hearing loss. But you can’t quite remember and that’s an issue. And that’s been occurring more often, too. You couldn’t even remember the name of your new co-worker when you were at work yesterday. You just met her, but even so, it feels 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.
Certainly, both hearing and memory can be impacted by age. But it’s even more relevant that these two can also be related to each other. At first, that may seem like bad news (you have to cope with memory loss and hearing loss together…great). But the truth is, the relationship between memory and hearing loss can often be a blessing in disguise.
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 diminishing prowess of your ears. Your brain, memory, and even social life can, over time, be overwhelmed by the “spillover”.
How does a deficiency of your hearing impact so much of your brain? There are numerous ways:
- Constant strain: In the early stages of hearing loss especially, your brain is going to experience a type of hyper-activation fatigue. This happens because, even though there’s no actual input signal, your brain struggles to hear what’s going on in the world (your brain doesn’t know that you’re experiencing hearing loss, it just thinks external sounds are very quiet, so it gives a lot of effort attempting to hear in that silent environment). Your brain as well as your body will be left fatigued. Loss of memory and other issues can be the outcome.
- An abundance of quiet: As your hearing starts to waver, you’re going to experience more quietness (especially if your hearing loss is overlooked and untreated). For the parts of your brain that interprets sound, this can be quite dull. This boredom may not appear to be a serious problem, but disuse can actually cause portions of your brain to atrophy or weaken. This can impact the performance of all of your brain’s systems including memory.
- Social isolation: Communication will become harder when you have a difficult time hearing. Social isolation will commonly be the result, Once again, your brain is lacking vital interaction which can result in memory issues. When those (metaphorical) muscles aren’t used, they start to weaken. 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. There are plenty of things that can cause your recollections to start getting fuzzy, such as fatigue and illness (either physical or mental forms). Eating better and sleeping well, for example, can often increase your memory.
In this way, memory is sort 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 forgetting what your friend said yesterday.
Those red flags can be helpful if you’re attempting to watch out for hearing loss.
Hearing Loss is Commonly Related to Loss of Memory
The symptoms and signs of hearing impairment can often be difficult to recognize. Hearing loss is one of those slowly advancing ailments. Harm to your hearing is often further along than you would like by the time you actually observe the symptoms. However, if you begin to notice symptoms related to memory loss and get an exam early, there’s a good possibility you can prevent some damage to your hearing.
Retrieving Your Memory
In situations where hearing loss has impacted your memory, either via mental fatigue or social isolation, treatment of your underlying hearing problem is step one in treatment. When your brain stops struggling and straining, it’ll be capable of returning to its regular activities. It can take several months for your brain to get used to hearing again, so be patient.
Memory loss can be a practical warning that you need to keep your eye on the state of your hearing and protecting your ears. As the years start to add up, that’s definitely a lesson worth remembering.