Last night, did you turn up the volume on your TV? It might be a sign of hearing loss if so. The problem is… you can’t quite remember. And that’s been happening more often, too. While you were working yesterday, you weren’t able to remember your new co-worker’s name. Yes, you just met her but your hearing and your memory seem to be declining. And there’s only one common denominator you can find: aging.
Certainly, both memory and hearing can be impacted by age. But it turns out these two age-associated conditions are also linked to one another. That might sound like bad news initially (not only do you have to cope with hearing loss, you have to work around your failing memory too, wonderful). But there can be hidden positives to this relationship.
Memory And Hearing Loss – What’s The Connection?
Your brain starts to become taxed from hearing loss 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 impacted by hearing loss? Well, there are a few specific ways:
- Constant strain: Your brain will experience a hyper-activation fatigue, especially in the early phases of hearing loss. This happens because, even though there’s no external input signal, your brain strains to hear what’s happening in the world (it puts in a lot of energy trying to hear because without realizing you have hearing loss, it believes that everything is quiet). Your brain as well as your body will be left exhausted. That mental and physical fatigue often results in memory loss.
- Social isolation: When you have a hard time hearing, you’ll likely encounter some added obstacles communicating. Social isolation will commonly be the result, Again, your brain is lacking vital interaction which can lead to memory problems. When those (metaphorical) muscles aren’t engaged, they start to weaken. Social isolation, depression, and memory problems will, over time, set in.
- It’s becoming quieter: As your hearing begins to waver, you’re going to experience more quietness (particularly if your hearing loss goes unnoticed and neglected). For the parts of your brain that interprets sound, this can be quite dull. This boredom may not seem like a serious problem, but lack of use can actually cause parts of your brain to weaken and atrophy. This can affect the performance of all of your brain’s systems including memory.
Memory Loss 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 improve your memory.
This can be a case of your body putting up red flags. Your brain starts raising red flags when things aren’t working correctly. 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.
Memory Loss Frequently Indicates Hearing Loss
It’s frequently difficult to detect the early signs and symptoms of hearing loss. Hearing loss doesn’t develop over night. Harm to your hearing is commonly worse than you would want by the time you actually observe the symptoms. However, if you begin noticing symptoms associated with memory loss and get an exam early, there’s a good chance you can avoid some damage to your hearing.
Retrieving Your Memory
In situations where your memory has already been impacted by hearing loss, whether it’s through social separation or mental exhaustion, the first step is to deal with the underlying hearing issue. The brain will be able to get back to its normal activity when it stops straining and overworking. Be patient, it can take a while for your brain to adjust to hearing again.
The warning signs raised by your loss of memory could help you be a little more aware of protecting your hearing, or at least managing your hearing loss. As the years begin to add up, that’s certainly a lesson worth remembering.