Did you turn the TV up last night? If so, it might be an indication of hearing loss. But you can’t quite remember and that’s an issue. And that’s been happening more frequently, too. While working yesterday, you couldn’t even remember your new co-worker’s name. You just met her, but even so, it seems like you’re losing your grip on your hearing and your memory. And there’s only one common denominator you can come up with: aging.
Now, absolutely, age can be related to both loss of hearing and memory failure. But it turns out these two age-associated conditions are also connected to each other. That may sound like bad news initially (you have to deal with hearing loss and memory loss at the same time…great). But there can be hidden positives to this connection.
Memory And Hearing Loss – What’s The Connection?
Your brain starts to become strained from hearing loss before you even realize you have it. Your brain, memory, and even social life can, over time, be overwhelmed by the “spillover”.
How does a deficiency of your hearing impact so much of your brain? Well, there are a number of distinct ways:
- Constant strain: In the early stages of hearing loss especially, your brain will experience a type of hyper-activation fatigue. This happens because, even though there’s no external input signal, your brain struggles to hear what’s happening in the world (your brain doesn’t recognize that you’re experiencing loss of hearing, it just thinks external sounds are really quiet, so it gives a lot of energy attempting to hear in that quiet environment). Your brain as well as your body will be left fatigued. That mental and physical fatigue often leads to memory loss.
- It’s becoming quieter: As your hearing starts to waver, you’re going to experience more quietness (especially if your hearing loss goes unnoticed and neglected). This can be, well, rather boring for the region of your brain usually responsible for the interpretation of sounds. And if the brain isn’t used it starts to weaken and atrophy. That can result in a certain amount of overall stress, which can interfere with your memory.
- Social isolation: Communication will become strained when you have a difficult time hearing. That can push some individuals to isolate themselves. And isolation can result in memory issues because, again, your brain isn’t getting as much interaction as it used to. The brain will keep getting weaker the less it’s used. In the long run, social separation can lead to depression, anxiety, and memory issues.
Your Body Has An Early Warning System – It’s Called Memory Loss
Memory loss isn’t unique to hearing loss, naturally. Mental or physical illness or fatigue, among other things, can cause memory loss. Eating better and sleeping well, for instance, can often improve your memory.
Consequently, memory is sort of like the canary in the coal mine for your body. The red flags go up when things aren’t working properly. And one of those red flags is forgetting what your friend said yesterday.
Those red flags can be useful if you’re attempting to keep an eye out for hearing loss.
Loss of Memory Frequently Indicates Hearing Loss
It’s frequently difficult to recognize the early signs and symptoms of hearing loss. Hearing loss doesn’t happen instantly. Harm to your hearing is commonly worse than you would like by the time you actually observe the symptoms. However, if you begin to notice symptoms connected to memory loss and get checked out early, there’s a strong possibility you can avoid some damage to your hearing.
Retrieving Your Memory
In cases where hearing loss has impacted your memory, whether it’s through social separation or mental fatigue, treatment of your underlying hearing issue is the first step in treatment. When your brain stops struggling and straining, it’ll be able to return to its normal activities. Be patient, it can take a while for your brain to adjust to hearing again.
The warning signs raised by your memory loss could help you be a little more aware of protecting your hearing, or at least managing your hearing loss. That’s a lesson to remember as you get older.