Last night, did you turn the volume up on your TV? It might be a sign of hearing loss if so. But you can’t quite remember and that’s a problem. And that’s been occurring more often, 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 there’s just one common denominator you can find: you’re getting older.
Now, absolutely, age can be related to both loss of hearing and memory malfunction. But it turns out these two age-associated symptoms are also connected to each other. At first, that may seem like bad news (you have to deal with memory loss and hearing loss at the same time…great). But the reality is, the relationship between hearing loss and memory can often be a blessing in disguise.
Memory And Hearing Loss – What’s The Relationship?
Hearing impairment can be straining for your brain in numerous ways well before you recognize the diminishing prowess of your ears. Your brain, memory, and even social life can, over time, be overwhelmed by the “spillover”.
How is so much of your brain affected by loss of hearing? There are several ways:
- Constant strain: Your brain will go through a hyper-activation fatigue, particularly in the early stages of hearing loss. This occurs because, even though there’s no actual input signal, your brain strains to hear what’s taking place in the world (it puts in a lot of energy trying to hear because without recognizing you have hearing loss, it believes that everything is quiet). This can leave your brain (and your body) feeling exhausted. Loss of memory and other issues can be the result.
- Social isolation: Communication will become strained when you have a difficult time hearing. Social isolation will commonly be the result, Again, your brain is lacking vital interaction which can result in memory problems. When those (metaphorical) muscles aren’t used, they start to weaken. Social isolation, depression, and memory issues will, over time, set in.
- It’s getting quieter: Things will become quieter when your hearing begins to diminish (this is especially true if your hearing loss is neglected). For the parts of your brain that interprets sound, this can be quite dull. And if the brain isn’t used it begins to weaken and atrophy. That can lead to a certain degree of overall stress, which can impact your 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 memories to begin to get fuzzy, such as illness or fatigue (either mental or physical forms). As an example, eating healthy and sleeping well can help help your memory.
This can be a case of your body throwing up red flags. The red flags go up when things aren’t working right. And one of those red flags is failing to remember what your friend said yesterday.
But these warnings can help you recognize when things are starting to go wrong with your hearing.
Hearing Loss is Frequently Linked to Loss of Memory
It’s frequently hard to detect the early symptoms and signs of hearing loss. Hearing loss is one of those slowly advancing ailments. Once you actually notice the associated symptoms, the damage to your hearing is usually farther along than most hearing specialists would want. However, if you begin to notice symptoms associated with memory loss and get checked out early, there’s a good possibility you can prevent some damage to your hearing.
Getting Your Memories Back
In situations where your memory has already been impacted by hearing loss, whether it’s through social isolation or mental fatigue, the first step is to treat the underlying hearing issue. The brain will be capable of getting back to its regular activity when it stops stressing and struggling. It can take a few months for your brain to re-adjust to hearing again, so be patient.
The warning signs raised by your loss of memory could help you be a little more conscious about protecting your hearing, or at least treating your hearing loss. As the years begin to add up, that’s definitely a lesson worth remembering.