Last night, did you turn up the volume on your TV? It might be an indication of hearing loss if you did. But you can’t quite remember and that’s an issue. And that’s been happening more often, also. While you were working yesterday, you couldn’t even remember your new co-worker’s name. You met her recently, but still, it seems like you’re losing your grip on your hearing and your memory. And as you rack your brains, you can only formulate one common cause: aging.
Now, sure, age can be related to both hearing loss and memory malfunction. But it’s even more relevant that these two can also be related to each other. At first, that may sound like bad news (not only do you have to deal with hearing loss, you have to manage your failing memory too, wonderful). But the reality is, the link between memory and hearing loss can often be a blessing in disguise.
Memory And Hearing Loss – What’s The Link?
Your brain begins to get strained 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 hearing loss? Well, there are a few specific ways:
- Constant strain: Your brain will experience a hyper-activation fatigue, particularly in the early stages of hearing loss. That’s because your brain will be struggling to hear what’s happening out in the world, even though there’s no input signal (your brain doesn’t recognize that you’re experiencing loss of hearing, it just thinks external sounds are really quiet, so it gives a lot of energy attempting to hear in that quiet environment). Your brain and your body will be left fatigued. That mental and physical fatigue often results in memory loss.
- It’s getting quieter: Things will become quieter when your hearing begins to diminish (especially if your hearing loss goes unnoticed and untreated). For the parts of your brain that interprets sound, this can be rather dull. And if the brain isn’t used it begins to weaken and atrophy. This can affect the performance of all of your brain’s systems including memory.
- Social isolation: Communication will become harder when you have a hard time hearing. That can lead some individuals to isolate themselves. Again, your brain is lacking vital interaction which can bring about memory problems. The brain will keep getting weaker the less it’s used. Social isolation, depression, and memory issues will, over time, develop.
Memory Loss is an Early Warning System For Your Body
Memory loss isn’t exclusive to hearing loss, naturally. Physical or mental illness or fatigue, among other things, can trigger loss of memory. Eating better and sleeping well, for instance, can generally increase 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 correctly. And having trouble recalling who said what in yesterday’s meeting is one of those red flags.
Those red flags can be useful if you’re trying to keep an eye out for hearing loss.
Hearing Loss is Frequently Related to Loss of Memory
It’s frequently hard to recognize the early symptoms and signs of hearing loss. Hearing loss doesn’t develop instantly. Once you actually notice the corresponding symptoms, the damage to your hearing tends to be more advanced than most hearing specialists would like. But if you have your hearing checked soon after noticing some memory loss, you might be able to catch the issue early.
Retrieving Your Memory
In situations where your memory has already been impacted by hearing loss, either via mental exhaustion or social isolation, treatment of your root hearing problem is the first step in treatment. When your brain stops overworking and straining, it’ll be able to return to its regular activities. Be patient, it can take a while for your brain to get used 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 protecting your ears. As the years start to add up, that’s definitely a lesson worth remembering.