Did you turn the TV up last night? If you did, it could be a sign of hearing loss. The problem is… you can’t quite remember. 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. Yes, you just met her but your memory and your hearing seem to be declining. And as you think about it, you can only formulate one common cause: aging.
Now, sure, age can be connected to both hearing loss and memory malfunction. But it turns out these two age-associated conditions are also related to one another. At first, that might seem like bad news (not only do you have to deal with loss of hearing, you have to manage your waning memory too, wonderful). But there can be hidden positives to this connection.
Memory And Hearing Loss – What’s The Link?
Your brain starts to become strained from hearing loss before you even know you have it. Your brain, memory, and even social life can, over time, be overwhelmed by the “spillover”.
How does a deficiency of your ear impact such a large part of your brain? Well, there are a number of distinct ways:
- Social isolation: Communication will become harder when you have a hard time hearing. Social isolation will commonly be the result, Again, your brain is deprived of vital interaction which can lead to memory issues. The brain will keep getting weaker the less it’s used. Social isolation, depression, and memory issues will, over time, develop.
- Constant strain: Your brain will go through a hyper-activation fatigue, particularly in the early stages 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 know that you’re experiencing hearing loss, it just thinks external sounds are very quiet, so it gives a lot of energy attempting to hear in that quiet environment). This can leave your brain (and your body) feeling fatigued. That mental and physical exhaustion often leads to loss of memory.
- An abundance of quiet: Things will become quieter when your hearing starts to wane (particularly if your hearing loss goes unnoticed and neglected). For the regions of your brain that interprets sound, this can be rather dull. And if the brain isn’t used it starts to weaken and atrophy. That can lead to a certain degree of overall stress, which can impact your memory.
Memory Loss is an Early Warning System For Your Body
Memory loss isn’t unique to hearing loss, naturally. Mental or physical fatigue or illness, among other things, can trigger memory loss. Eating better and sleeping well, for example, can usually increase your memory.
In this way, memory is sort of like the canary in the coal mine for your body. Your brain begins to raise red flags when things aren’t working precisely. 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.
Memory Loss Frequently Indicates Hearing Loss
The signs and symptoms of hearing impairment can frequently be hard to notice. Hearing loss doesn’t develop instantly. Once you actually recognize the associated symptoms, the damage to your hearing is generally more advanced than most hearing specialists would like. However, if you start identifying symptoms related to memory loss and get an exam early, there’s a strong possibility you can prevent some damage to your hearing.
Retrieving Your Memory
In instances where hearing loss has impacted your memory, either via mental fatigue or social separation, the first task is to manage the underlying hearing issue. The brain will be able to get back to its regular activity when it stops straining and struggling. Be patient, it can take a while for your brain to get used to hearing again.
The warning signs raised by your memory loss could help you be a little more aware of protecting your hearing, or at least managing your hearing loss. That’s a lesson to remember as you get older.