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Bright Audiology - Sanford, NC

Confused mature business woman suffering from memory loss

Age-associated hearing loss can have broad impacts across your whole life. Besides your ability to hear, your professional life, your social life, and even your mental clarity can also be affected. The way your brain works, including your memory and mood, can be substantially affected by hearing loss.

Sometimes, the relationship between hearing loss and cognition is elusive. People usually don’t relate their memory issues, for instance, with hearing loss even though it’s one of the first symptoms. Unfortunately, the reality is that memory loss and hearing loss are closely related.

What’s the connection between memory and hearing loss? Well, the relationship is at least partly the result of the unique ways that hearing loss can strain and stress your brain. Your mental abilities will usually improve when you manage your hearing loss.

How hearing loss effects memory

Noticing hearing loss can frequently be challenging. Frequently, individuals miss the early warning signs and more discreet symptoms. For these individuals hearing loss may only become noticeable once it has become moderate or severe. In part, that’s because hearing loss tends to progress quite slowly. Individuals often begin raising the volume on their devices more and more and tend to ignore their symptoms.

Another factor is how good the brain is at compensating for loss of sound. You may not notice that it’s becoming harder to understand what people are saying as a result. The positive thing about this is that your day-to-day life will have fewer disruptions. However, compensating in this way requires considerable brain power. Requiring your brain to execute at this level for long durations can result in:

  • Chronic fatigue
  • Memory loss or forgetfulness
  • Unexplained irritability

If you’re experiencing these symptoms, we’ll be able to tell you whether the underlying cause is hearing loss or not. In instances where hearing loss is present, we’ll work with you to formulate a treatment plan.

Can memory issues be the outcome of hearing loss?

Obviously, your brain can be impacted by hearing loss in other ways besides fatigue. Forgetfulness is a common symptom. This is particularly true of neglected hearing loss. The cause and effect relationship isn’t entirely understood, but it’s obvious that there is a connection between hearing loss and the following problems:

  • Increased risk of depression and anxiety: An increase in anxiety and depression as a result of untreated hearing loss is not unusual according to multiple studies. And once again, when the underlying hearing loss has been treated, the risk factor drops substantially.
  • Increased risk of dementia: Individuals who have untreated hearing loss often have an increased danger of dementia and mental decline. When the hearing loss is effectively treated, the risk decreases significantly.
  • Social isolation: It isn’t uncommon for individuals to withdraw from social contact when they have neglected hearing loss. They will often avoid conversations and will do things like using self-checkout instead of talking to a cashier. Over time, this type of isolation can alter the way your brain is functioning.

All of these problems are obviously intertwined. Mental health issues, including depression, can be intensified by social solitude. And your risk of dementia also goes up with social solitude.

Does hearing loss cause cognitive decline?

One of the more extreme impacts of neglected hearing loss is a pronounced increase in your risk of mental decline and dementia. It’s very clear that management of the symptoms helps significantly and scientists have a number of theories as to why. In other words, managing your hearing loss has been shown to slow down mental decline and lower your risk of developing dementia later in life.

How to handle your forgetfulness (and hearing loss)

If your fatigue and memory loss are caused by neglected hearing loss, the good news is that managing your hearing loss symptoms can absolutely have a positive effect. In cases where hearing loss is detected, we might recommend the following:

  • Hearing protection: Some of the cognitive decline previously discussed can be avoided and further damage can be reduced by the use of hearing protection.
  • Regular screenings: Regular screenings can help you identify issues with your hearing before they become significant issues. Cognitive strain can be avoided with early management.
  • The use of hearing aids: You will hear better with the use of a hearing aid. This can result in less strain on your cognitive abilities and an improvement in your social situation. By preventing and reducing social isolation, your cognition can improve, decreasing your risk of dementia, depression, and other problems.

You can improve your memory

If hearing loss is causing you to be a little forgetful, it’s important to highlight that it doesn’t need to stay that way. Once the strain on your brain is alleviated, your cognitive function, in many cases, will improve. When your brain doesn’t need to work as hard to hear, the rest can be very helpful.

Make an appointment with us so that we can help you substantially improve your outlook and decrease your risk of other issues.

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The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.
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