Last night, did you turn up the volume on your TV? It may be an indication of hearing loss if you did. But you can’t quite remember and that’s an issue. And that’s starting become more of an issue recently. You couldn’t even remember the name of your new co-worker when you were at work yesterday. You just met her, but still, it feels like you’re losing your grip on your memory and your hearing. And as you think about it, you can only formulate one common cause: you’re getting older.
Certainly, both memory and hearing can be affected by age. But it turns out these two age-associated conditions are also related to each other. That may sound like bad news at first (not only do you have to cope with hearing loss, you have to manage your waning memory too, wonderful). But the truth is, the connection between memory and hearing loss can often be a blessing in disguise.
The Relationship Between Memory And Hearing Loss
Your brain begins to get 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 does a deficiency of your ear affect so much of your brain? Well, there are a few different ways:
- It’s getting quieter: Things will get quieter when your hearing starts to wane (particularly if your hearing loss is overlooked and neglected). For the regions of your brain that interprets sound, this can be rather dull. This boredom may not seem like a serious issue, but disuse can actually cause portions of your brain to weaken and atrophy. This can affect the performance of all of your brain’s systems and that includes memory.
- Constant strain: Your brain will undergo a hyper-activation fatigue, especially in the early phases of hearing loss. That’s because your brain will be straining to hear what’s going on out in the world, even though there’s no input signal (it devotes 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. Memory loss and other problems can be the outcome.
- Social isolation: When you have difficulty hearing, you’ll probably experience some additional struggles communicating. Social isolation will often be the result, Again, your brain is deprived of vital interaction which can result in memory issues. The brain will keep getting weaker the less it’s used. Social isolation, depression, and memory issues will, over time, set in.
Loss of memory is an Early Warning System For Your Body
Clearly, having hearing loss isn’t the only thing that triggers memory loss. Physical or mental fatigue or illness, among other things, can cause memory loss. Eating better and sleeping well, for example, can generally increase your memory.
This can be a case of your body throwing up red flags. Your brain starts raising red flags when things aren’t working precisely. And one of those red flags is forgetting what your friend said yesterday.
Those red flags can be helpful if you’re attempting to keep an eye out for hearing loss.
Hearing Loss is Often Connected to Loss of Memory
It’s frequently hard to detect the early signs and symptoms of hearing loss. Hearing loss is one of those slowly advancing afflictions. Once you actually notice the corresponding symptoms, the damage to your hearing tends to be farther along than most hearing specialists would want. But if you have your hearing checked soon after detecting some memory loss, you might be able to catch the problem early.
Retrieving Your Memory
In cases where hearing loss has impacted your memory, either via mental fatigue or social separation, the first task is to deal with the root hearing issue. The brain will be able to get back to its normal activity when it stops stressing and overworking. Be patient, it can take a bit 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.