Did you turn the TV up last night? If you did, it may be a sign of hearing loss. But you can’t quite remember and that’s an issue. And that’s becoming more of a problem recently. While you were working yesterday, you weren’t able to remember your new co-worker’s name. You just met her, but still, it feels like you’re losing your grip on your memory and your hearing. And there’s just one common denominator you can find: aging.
Now, absolutely, age can be related to both loss of hearing and memory malfunction. But it’s even more relevant that these two can also be linked to each other. That may sound like bad news initially (you have to cope with memory loss and hearing loss at the same time…great). But there can be unseen positives to this connection.
The Connection Between Memory And Hearing Loss
Your brain starts to become strained from hearing impairment before you even realize you have it. 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? There are several ways:
- An abundance of quiet: As your hearing starts to waver, you’re going to experience more quietness (particularly if your hearing loss goes unnoticed and untreated). For the parts of your brain that interprets sound, this can be rather dull. This boredom may not seem like a serious issue, but disuse can actually cause portions of your brain to atrophy or weaken. That can cause a certain amount of overall stress, which can impact your memory.
- Social isolation: Communication will become strained when you have a hard time hearing. That can lead some people to isolate themselves. And isolation can lead to memory issues because, once again, your brain isn’t getting as much interaction as it used to. When those (metaphorical) muscles aren’t used, they begin to weaken. Social isolation, depression, and memory problems will, over time, develop.
- Constant strain: In the early phases of hearing loss especially, your brain will experience a type 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 realizing you have hearing loss, it believes that everything is quiet). This can leave your brain (and your body) feeling fatigued. That mental and physical exhaustion often causes memory loss.
Memory Loss is an Early Warning System For Your Body
Obviously, having hearing loss isn’t the only thing that triggers memory loss. Physical or mental illness or fatigue, among other things, can cause loss of memory. As an example, eating healthy and sleeping well can help improve 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 recollecting who said what in yesterday’s meeting is one of those red flags.
Those red flags can be helpful if you’re attempting to keep an eye out for hearing loss.
Loss of Memory Often Indicates Hearing Loss
It’s often difficult to detect the early signs and symptoms of hearing loss. Hearing loss doesn’t happen over night. Once you actually notice the associated symptoms, the damage to your hearing is usually farther along than most hearing specialists would want. However, if you begin noticing symptoms associated with memory loss and get an exam early, there’s a strong chance you can prevent some damage to your hearing.
Retrieving Your Memory
In situations where hearing loss has affected your memory, whether it’s through social separation or mental exhaustion, treatment of your root hearing issue is step one in treatment. The brain will be able to get back to its normal activity when it stops straining and overworking. It can take several 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 conscious about protecting your hearing, or at least treating your hearing loss. As the years start to add up, that’s definitely a lesson worth remembering.