Last night, did you turn the volume up on your TV? If so, it could be a sign of hearing loss. The problem is… you can’t quite remember. And that’s been occurring more frequently, too. You couldn’t even remember what your new co-worker’s name was when you were at work yesterday. Yes, you just met her but your memory and your hearing seem to be declining. And as you rack your brains, you can only formulate one common cause: you’re getting older.
Now, absolutely, age can be connected to both loss of hearing and memory malfunction. But it’s even more significant that these two can also be connected to each other. At first, that may seem like bad news (you have to cope with hearing loss and memory loss at the same time…great). But there can be unseen positives to this relationship.
The Link Between Memory And Hearing Loss
Your brain starts to become taxed from hearing loss before you even realize you have it. Though the “spillover” effects may start out small, over time they can expand, encompassing your brain, your memory, even your social life.
How is so much of your brain affected by hearing loss? Well, there are a few distinct ways:
- Social isolation: Communication will become harder when you have a hard time hearing. That can lead some people to isolate themselves. Again, your brain is deprived of vital interaction which can result in memory issues. The brain will continue to weaken the less it’s used. Social isolation, depression, and memory issues will, over time, set in.
- It’s becoming quieter: Things will get quieter when your hearing begins to wane (this is especially true if your hearing loss is neglected). This can be, well, kind of boring for the parts of your brain usually responsible for interpreting sounds. This boredom might not seem like a serious issue, but lack of use can actually cause portions of your brain to atrophy or weaken. That can result in a certain degree of generalized stress, which can impact your memory.
- Constant strain: In the early stages of hearing loss especially, your brain will experience a sort of hyper-activation exhaustion. That’s because your brain will be struggling to hear what’s happening out in the world, even though there’s no input signal (it devotes 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 exhausted. That mental and physical exhaustion often results in loss of memory.
Your Body Has An Early Warning System – It’s Called Memory Loss
Clearly, having hearing loss isn’t the only thing that causes memory loss. There are lots of things that can cause your recollections to start to get fuzzy, including illness or fatigue (either mental or physical forms). As an example, eating healthy and sleeping well can help help your memory.
This can be an example of your body throwing up red flags. Your brain begins to raise red flags when things aren’t working correctly. And one of those red flags is forgetting what your friend said yesterday.
But these warnings can help you know when things are starting to go wrong with your hearing.
Loss of Memory Frequently Indicates Hearing Loss
It’s often hard to detect the early symptoms and signs of hearing loss. Hearing loss is one of those slowly advancing conditions. Once you actually notice the corresponding symptoms, the damage to your hearing is usually farther along than most hearing specialists would like. However, if you start noticing symptoms associated with memory loss and get checked out early, there’s a strong chance you can avoid some damage to your hearing.
Getting Your Memories Back
In situations where hearing loss has impacted your memory, either via mental fatigue or social isolation, the first task is to treat the underlying hearing issue. When your brain stops struggling and over stressing, it’ll be capable of returning to its regular activities. 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 aware of protecting your hearing, or at least treating your hearing loss. As the years begin to add up, that’s definitely a lesson worth remembering.