Did you turn up the TV last night? If so, it may be an indication of hearing loss. The problem is… you can’t quite remember. And that’s becoming more of a problem recently. You couldn’t even remember the name of your new co-worker when you were at work yesterday. Yes, you just met her but your memory and your hearing seem to be declining. And there’s just one common denominator you can come up with: aging.
Certainly, both hearing and memory can be affected by age. But it’s even more relevant that these two can also be linked to each other. At first, that may seem like bad news (you have to cope with memory loss and hearing loss at the same time…great). But the reality is, the relationship between hearing loss and memory can often be a blessing in disguise.
The Connection Between Memory And Hearing Loss
Your brain starts to become strained from hearing impairment before you even realize 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? Well, there are a few distinct ways:
- Constant strain: Your brain will experience a hyper-activation fatigue, particularly in the early phases of hearing loss. That’s because your brain will be struggling to hear what’s taking place out in the world, even though there’s no input signal (your brain doesn’t recognize that you’re experiencing loss of hearing, it just thinks things are very quiet, so it gives a lot of effort attempting to hear in that quiet environment). This can leave your brain (and your body) feeling fatigued. That mental and physical exhaustion often causes loss of memory.
- An abundance of quiet: Things will become quieter when your hearing starts to diminish (particularly if your hearing loss goes unnoticed and neglected). For the parts of your brain that interprets sound, this can be rather dull. And if the brain isn’t used it begins 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 harder when you have a difficult time hearing. Social isolation will frequently be the result, Once again, your brain is deprived of vital interaction which can bring about memory problems. When those (metaphorical) muscles aren’t engaged, they begin to deteriorate. In the long run, social separation can result in depression, anxiety, and memory issues.
Loss of memory is an Early Warning System For Your Body
Obviously, having hearing loss isn’t the only thing that causes memory loss. There are plenty of things that can cause your recollections to begin getting fuzzy, and that includes fatigue and illness (either mental or physical varieties). As an example, eating healthy and sleeping well can help help your memory.
In this way, memory is sort of like the canary in the coal mine for your body. Your brain starts raising red flags when things aren’t working properly. And one of those red flags is forgetting what your friend said yesterday.
But these warnings can help you know when things are starting to go wrong with your hearing.
Loss of Memory Frequently Points to Hearing Loss
It’s frequently hard to detect the early symptoms and signs of hearing loss. Hearing loss is one of those slowly advancing conditions. Damage to your hearing is usually further along than you would like by the time you actually notice the symptoms. However, if you begin noticing symptoms related to memory loss and get checked out early, there’s a strong chance you can avoid some damage to your hearing.
Getting Your Memories Back
In situations where your memory has already been affected by hearing loss, either via mental exhaustion or social isolation, the first task is to treat the root hearing problem. The brain will be able to get back to its regular activity when it stops straining and struggling. Be patient, it can take a while for your brain to adjust to hearing again.
The red flags raised by your loss of memory could help you be a little more conscious about protecting your hearing, or at least treating your hearing loss. As the years begin to add up, that’s certainly a lesson worth remembering.