Last night, did you turn up the volume on your TV? It may be an indication of hearing loss if you did. The problem is… you can’t quite remember. And that’s becoming more of a problem recently. While you were working yesterday, you couldn’t even remember your new co-worker’s name. Yes, you just met her but your hearing and your memory seem to be declining. And as you think about it, you can only come up with one common cause: aging.
Now, sure, age can be connected to both hearing loss and memory failure. But it turns out these two age-associated symptoms are also linked to each other. That may sound like bad news initially (you have to deal with hearing loss and memory loss at the same time…great). But the reality is, the connection between hearing loss and memory can often be a blessing in disguise.
The Relationship Between Memory And Hearing Loss
Hearing loss can be straining for your brain in a number of ways well before you recognize the diminishing prowess of your ears. Your brain, memory, and even social life can, over time, be overwhelmed by the “spillover”.
How is so much of your brain affected by hearing loss? Well, there are several specific ways:
- Constant strain: In the early stages of hearing loss especially, your brain is going to experience a sort of hyper-activation exhaustion. That’s because your brain will be straining to hear what’s happening 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). This can leave your brain (and your body) feeling tired. That mental and physical exhaustion often causes loss of memory.
- An abundance of quiet: As your hearing begins to waver, you’re going to experience more quietness (this is especially true if your hearing loss is neglected). This can be, well, rather boring for the region of your brain usually responsible for interpreting sounds. And if the brain isn’t used it starts to weaken and atrophy. This can affect the performance of all of your brain’s systems and that includes memory.
- Social isolation: When you have a hard time hearing, you’ll likely encounter some added obstacles communicating. That can lead some individuals to isolate themselves. And isolation can result in memory problems because, once again, your brain isn’t getting as much interaction as it used to. The brain will keep getting weaker the less it’s used. Social isolation, depression, and memory issues will, over time, set in.
Your Body Has An Early Warning System – It’s Called Memory Loss
Memory loss isn’t unique to hearing loss, of course. There are lots of things that can cause your recollections to start to get fuzzy, such as fatigue and illness (either physical or mental forms). As an example, eating right and sleeping well can help help your memory.
In this way, 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 remembering who said what in yesterday’s meeting is one of those red flags.
Those red flags can be useful if you’re trying to keep an eye out for hearing loss.
Loss of Memory Often Points to Hearing Loss
It’s frequently hard to detect the early signs and symptoms of hearing loss. Hearing loss doesn’t develop instantly. Harm to your hearing is usually further along than you would like by the time you actually observe the symptoms. However, if you start noticing symptoms related to memory loss and get checked out early, there’s a good chance you can avoid some damage to your hearing.
Retrieving Your Memory
In instances where hearing loss has impacted your memory, whether it’s through social isolation or mental exhaustion, the first task is to manage the underlying hearing issue. When your brain stops struggling and over stressing, it’ll be able to return to its regular activities. Be patient, it can take a while for your brain to adjust to hearing again.
Loss of memory can be a practical warning that you need to keep your eye on the state of your hearing and safeguarding your ears. That’s a lesson to remember as you get older.