Last night, did you turn the volume up on your TV? If so, it may be a sign of hearing loss. The problem is… you can’t quite remember. And that’s starting become more of a problem recently. While working yesterday, you weren’t able to 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 there’s just one common denominator you can find: aging.
Certainly, both hearing and memory can be affected by age. But it turns out these two age-associated symptoms are also related to one another. At first, that might sound like bad news (you have to deal with memory loss and hearing loss together…great). But there can be hidden positives to this connection.
The Link Between Memory And Hearing Loss
Your brain starts to become strained from hearing impairment before you even know you have it. 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: In the early stages of hearing loss especially, your brain will experience a type of hyper-activation exhaustion. 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 know that you’re experiencing loss of hearing, it just thinks things are very quiet, so it devotes 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 causes loss of memory.
- Social isolation: When you have a hard time hearing, you’ll likely experience some extra challenges communicating. Social isolation will often be the result, Once again, your brain is lacking vital interaction which can bring about memory issues. When those (metaphorical) muscles aren’t used, they begin to weaken. Social isolation, depression, and memory problems will, over time, set in.
- It’s getting quieter: Things will get quieter when your hearing starts to diminish (particularly if your hearing loss is overlooked and untreated). For the parts 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 cause a certain degree of overall stress, which can hinder your memory.
Memory Loss is an Early Warning System For Your Body
Memory loss isn’t exclusive to hearing loss, of course. Physical or mental fatigue or illness, among other things, can trigger memory loss. Eating better and sleeping well, for instance, can usually increase your memory.
This can be an example of your body putting up red flags. The red flags come out when things aren’t working properly. And having trouble remembering who said what in yesterday’s meeting is one of those red flags.
But these warnings can help you know when things are beginning to go wrong with your hearing.
Hearing Loss is Often Connected to Loss of Memory
The signs and symptoms of hearing loss can frequently be difficult to recognize. Hearing loss is one of those slowly advancing ailments. Once you actually recognize the associated symptoms, the damage to your hearing tends to be farther along than most hearing specialists would like. But if you have your hearing checked 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 affected by hearing loss, whether it’s through social isolation or mental exhaustion, treatment of your root hearing issue is step one in treatment. When your brain stops overworking and over stressing, it’ll be able to return to its normal activities. It can take several months for your brain to re-adjust to hearing again, so be patient.
Memory loss can be a practical warning that you need to keep your eye on the state of your hearing and safeguarding your ears. That’s a lesson to remember as you get older.