Last night, did you turn up the volume on your TV? It might be an indication of hearing loss if so. The problem is… you can’t quite remember. And that’s been occurring more often, also. You couldn’t even remember the name of your new co-worker when you were at work yesterday. You met her recently, but even so, it seems like you’re losing your grip on your memory and your hearing. And there’s just one common denominator you can come up with: aging.
Now, sure, age can be connected to both loss of hearing and memory malfunction. But it’s even more relevant 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 together…great). But the truth is, the relationship between hearing loss and memory can often be a blessing in disguise.
Memory And Hearing Loss – What’s The Connection?
Your brain starts to become taxed from hearing impairment before you even know 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 loss of hearing? There are numerous ways:
- Social isolation: Communication will become harder when you have a difficult time hearing. Social isolation will often be the outcome, Again, your brain is lacking vital interaction which can lead to memory issues. The brain will continue to weaken the less it’s used. Eventually, social separation can lead to anxiety, depression, and memory problems.
- Constant strain: In the early stages of hearing loss especially, your brain is going to experience a kind of hyper-activation fatigue. 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 hearing loss, it just thinks things are very quiet, so it devotes a lot of energy trying to hear in that quiet environment). Your brain as well as your body will be left exhausted. That mental and physical exhaustion often results in memory loss.
- It’s becoming quieter: Things will get quieter when your hearing begins to wane (this is particularly 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 appear to be a serious issue, but lack of use can actually cause parts of your brain to atrophy or weaken. That can result in a certain amount of generalized stress, which can hinder your memory.
Your Body Has An Early Warning System – It’s Called Memory Loss
Clearly, having hearing loss isn’t the only thing that leads to memory loss. Physical or mental fatigue or illness, among other things, can trigger loss of memory. As an example, eating healthy and sleeping well can help improve your memory.
Consequently, 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 properly. And one of those red flags is forgetting what your friend said yesterday.
Those red flags can be useful if you’re trying to keep an eye out for hearing loss.
Hearing Loss is Frequently Linked to Loss of Memory
The signs and symptoms of hearing impairment can often be hard to detect. Hearing loss is one of those slowly advancing conditions. Once you actually notice the corresponding symptoms, the damage to your hearing is generally more advanced than most hearing specialists would like. However, if you start noticing symptoms associated with memory loss and get an exam early, there’s a good chance you can avoid some damage to your hearing.
Getting Your Memories Back
In situations where your memory has already been impacted by hearing loss, either via mental exhaustion or social separation, the first task is to deal with the root hearing issue. The brain will be capable of getting back to its normal activity when it stops straining and overworking. Be patient, it can take a bit for your brain to adjust to hearing again.
Loss of memory can be a practical warning that you need to keep your eye on the state of your hearing and safeguarding your ears. As the years start to add up, that’s certainly a lesson worth remembering.