Did you turn the TV up last night? It may be a sign of hearing loss if you did. The problem is… you can’t quite remember. And that’s starting become more of an issue recently. You couldn’t even remember what your new co-worker’s name was when you were at work yesterday. You just met her, but even so, it seems like you’re losing your grip on your hearing and your memory. And as you rack your brains, you can only come up with one common cause: you’re getting older.
Certainly, both memory and hearing can be affected by age. But it’s even more relevant that these two can also be linked to each other. At first, that may sound like bad news (not only do you have to deal with hearing loss, you have to manage your failing memory too, wonderful). But there can be unseen positives to this relationship.
The Relationship Between Memory And Hearing Loss
Hearing loss can be taxing for your brain in numerous ways well before you recognize 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 is so much of your brain impacted by hearing loss? There are numerous ways:
- Social isolation: When you have difficulty hearing, you’ll likely experience some additional struggles communicating. Social isolation will often be the result, And isolation can result in memory problems because, once again, your brain isn’t getting as much interaction as it once did. The brain will keep getting weaker the less it’s used. Social isolation, depression, and memory problems will, over time, set in.
- Constant strain: Your brain will undergo 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 (your brain doesn’t recognize that you’re experiencing hearing loss, it just thinks external sounds are very quiet, so it devotes a lot of effort attempting to hear in that silent environment). This can leave your brain (and your body) feeling exhausted. Loss of memory and other problems can be the outcome.
- An abundance of quiet: As your hearing starts to diminish, you’re going to experience more quietness (especially if your hearing loss goes unnoticed and neglected). For the regions of your brain that interprets sound, this can be rather dull. And if the brain isn’t used it starts to weaken and atrophy. That can result in a certain amount of generalized stress, which can hinder your memory.
Memory Loss is an Early Warning System For Your Body
Obviously, having hearing loss isn’t the only thing that causes memory loss. There are plenty of things that can cause your recollections to start getting fuzzy, and that includes illness or fatigue (either physical or mental forms). As an example, eating right and sleeping well can help improve your memory.
This can be an example of your body putting up red flags. Your brain begins to raise red flags when things aren’t working precisely. And having trouble recollecting who said what in yesterday’s meeting is one of those red flags.
But these warnings can help you know when things are starting to go wrong with your hearing.
Loss of Memory Often Points to Hearing Loss
The signs and symptoms of hearing impairment can frequently be hard to notice. Hearing loss is one of those slowly advancing afflictions. Harm to your hearing is often further along than you would want by the time you actually observe the symptoms. But if you get your hearing checked soon after detecting some memory loss, you might be able to catch the problem early.
Retrieving Your Memory
In situations where hearing loss has affected your memory, either via mental fatigue or social separation, treatment of your root hearing problem is the first step in treatment. When your brain stops overworking and straining, it’ll be capable of returning to its normal activities. It can take several months for your brain to re-adjust to hearing again, so be patient.
The warning signs raised by your loss of memory could help you be a little more aware of protecting your hearing, or at least managing your hearing loss. As the years begin to add up, that’s certainly a lesson worth remembering.