Did you turn the TV up last night? If you did, it may be a sign of hearing loss. 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 memory and your hearing. And there’s only one common denominator you can come up with: aging.
Now, absolutely, age can be connected to both hearing loss and memory malfunction. But it’s even more significant that these two can also be linked to each other. At first, that might seem like bad news (you have to cope with memory loss and hearing loss together…great). But there can be hidden positives to this relationship.
Memory And Hearing Loss – What’s The Connection?
Hearing loss can be taxing for your brain in numerous ways long 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 impact so much of your brain? There are numerous ways:
- Constant strain: Your brain will undergo a hyper-activation fatigue, particularly in the early phases 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 (your brain doesn’t recognize that you’re experiencing loss of hearing, it just thinks things are very quiet, so it devotes a lot of effort attempting to hear in that quiet environment). Your brain as well as your body will be left fatigued. Loss of memory and other issues can be the result.
- Social isolation: When you have trouble hearing, you’ll likely encounter some extra challenges communicating. That can push some people to seclude themselves. And isolation can lead to memory problems because, once again, your brain isn’t getting as much interaction as it used to. When those (metaphorical) muscles aren’t engaged, they begin to deteriorate. Social isolation, depression, and memory issues will, over time, set in.
- An abundance of quiet: Things will become quieter when your hearing begins to wane (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 result in a certain amount of generalized stress, which can impact your memory.
Loss of memory is an Early Warning System For Your Body
Clearly, 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 to get fuzzy, including fatigue and illness (either physical or mental forms). Eating better and sleeping well, for example, can generally improve your memory.
This can be an example of your body putting up red flags. The red flags come out when things aren’t working right. 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 Frequently Related to Loss of Memory
It’s often hard to detect the early symptoms and signs of hearing loss. Hearing loss is one of those slow-moving conditions. Once you actually notice the corresponding symptoms, the damage to your hearing is usually farther along than most hearing specialists would want. But if you have your hearing tested soon after noticing some memory loss, you might be able to catch the problem early.
Retrieving Your Memory
In situations where your memory has already been impacted by hearing loss, either via mental exhaustion or social separation, the first task is to treat the root hearing problem. When your brain stops overworking and over stressing, it’ll be capable of returning to its normal activities. Be patient, it can take a bit for your brain to get used to hearing again.
Memory loss can be a practical warning that you need to pay attention to the state of your hearing and safeguarding your ears. That’s a lesson to remember as you get older.