Did you turn the TV up last night? It may be an indication of hearing loss if you did. The challenge is… you can’t quite remember. And that’s becoming more of a problem recently. While you were working yesterday, you couldn’t even remember your new co-worker’s name. You just met her, but still, it feels like you’re losing your grip on your memory and your hearing. And there’s only one common denominator you can come up with: you’re getting older.
Now, absolutely, age can be related to both hearing loss and memory failure. But it’s even more significant that these two can also be linked to each other. At first, that might seem like bad news (you have to deal with hearing loss and memory loss at the same time…great). But the truth is, the link between hearing loss and memory can often be a blessing in disguise.
The Link Between Memory And Hearing Loss
Hearing loss can be straining for your brain in numerous ways well before you recognize the decrease in your hearing. Though the “spillover” effects may start out small, over time they can expand, encompassing your brain, your memory, even your social life.
How does a deficiency of your hearing impact such a large part of your brain? Well, there are a number of specific ways:
- Social isolation: When you have a hard time hearing, you’ll probably encounter some additional obstacles communicating. That can lead some people to seclude themselves. Once again, your brain is deprived of vital interaction which can result in memory problems. The brain will continue to weaken the less it’s used. Eventually, social separation can result in depression, anxiety, and memory issues.
- It’s becoming quieter: Things will become quieter when your hearing starts to diminish (this is particularly true if your hearing loss is neglected). This can be, well, rather boring for the region of your brain normally responsible for interpreting sounds. And if the brain isn’t used it begins to weaken and atrophy. That can cause a certain degree of overall stress, which can interfere with your memory.
- Constant strain: In the early phases of hearing loss especially, your brain will experience a sort of hyper-activation exhaustion. That’s because your brain will be straining to hear what’s taking place out in the world, even though there’s no input signal (it puts in a lot of energy trying to hear because without realizing you have hearing loss, it thinks that everything is quiet). Your brain and your body will be left fatigued. That mental and physical exhaustion often results in memory loss.
Memory Loss is an Early Warning System For Your Body
Memory loss isn’t unique to hearing loss, naturally. There are plenty of things that can cause your recollections to begin to get fuzzy, including illness or fatigue (either mental or physical forms). Eating better and sleeping well, for instance, can usually improve your memory.
Consequently, memory is kind of like the canary in the coal mine for your body. The red flags come out when things aren’t working right. And one of those red flags is failing to remember what your friend said yesterday.
Those red flags can be useful if you’re trying to keep an eye out for hearing loss.
Loss of Memory Often Points to Hearing Loss
It’s frequently hard to recognize the early signs and symptoms of hearing loss. Hearing loss doesn’t develop instantly. Once you actually recognize the corresponding symptoms, the damage to your hearing is usually more advanced than most hearing specialists would like. But if you get your hearing tested soon after noticing some memory loss, you may be able to catch the issue early.
Getting Your Memories Back
In situations where your memory has already been impacted by hearing loss, either via mental fatigue or social separation, the first step is to deal with the root hearing issue. The brain will be able to get back to its normal activity when it stops straining and overworking. It can take several 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 managing your hearing loss. That’s a lesson to remember as you get older.