Last night, did you turn up the volume on your TV? If you did, it may be a sign of hearing loss. But you can’t quite remember and that’s a problem. And that’s been happening more frequently, also. You couldn’t even remember what your new co-worker’s name was when you were at work yesterday. You met her recently, but even so, it feels 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.
Now, absolutely, age can be related to both loss of hearing and memory malfunction. But it turns out these two age-associated symptoms are also linked to one another. At first, that might seem like bad news (you have to cope with hearing loss and memory loss together…great). But the reality is, the connection between memory and hearing loss can often be a blessing in disguise.
Memory And Hearing Loss – What’s The Link?
Hearing impairment can be taxing for your brain in a number of ways long 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 does a deficiency of your hearing impact so much of your brain? Well, there are several specific ways:
- It’s getting quieter: As your hearing starts to diminish, you’re going to experience more quietness (especially if your hearing loss is overlooked and neglected). This can be, well, rather boring for the region of your brain normally responsible for interpreting sounds. This boredom may not appear to be a serious issue, but lack of use can actually cause portions of your brain to weaken and atrophy. That can lead to a certain degree of generalized stress, which can impact your memory.
- Constant strain: Your brain will go through a hyper-activation fatigue, especially in the early stages of hearing loss. That’s because your brain will be struggling to hear what’s taking place out in the world, even though there’s no input signal (it puts in a lot of energy trying to hear because without recognizing you have hearing loss, it believes that everything is quiet). Your brain and your body will be left fatigued. Loss of memory and other issues can be the result.
- Social isolation: When you have difficulty hearing, you’ll likely encounter some additional challenges communicating. That can lead some individuals to isolate themselves. Once again, your brain is lacking vital interaction which can result in memory problems. When those (metaphorical) muscles aren’t engaged, they start to weaken. Social isolation, depression, and memory problems will, over time, develop.
Your Body Has An Early Warning System – It’s Called Memory Loss
Clearly, having hearing loss isn’t the only thing that triggers memory loss. There are lots of things that can cause your memories to start getting fuzzy, such as illness or fatigue (either mental or physical forms). As an example, eating right and sleeping well can help improve your memory.
This can be a case of your body putting up red flags. Your brain begins to raise red flags when things aren’t working properly. And one of those red flags is forgetting what your friend said yesterday.
But these warnings can help you recognize when things are beginning to go wrong with your hearing.
Hearing Loss is Commonly Linked to Loss of Memory
The symptoms and signs of hearing loss can frequently be difficult to recognize. Hearing loss is one of those slowly advancing afflictions. Once you actually notice the associated symptoms, the damage to your hearing is usually farther along than most hearing specialists would want. But if you have your hearing checked soon after detecting some memory loss, you may be able to catch the issue early.
Retrieving Your Memory
In instances where hearing loss has impacted your memory, either via mental exhaustion or social isolation, treatment of your underlying hearing problem is the first step in treatment. When your brain stops overworking 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 managing your hearing loss. As the years begin to add up, that’s certainly a lesson worth remembering.