Did you turn up the TV last night? It may be a sign of hearing loss if so. 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 what your new co-worker’s name was when you were at work yesterday. Yes, you just met her but your memory and your hearing seem to be faltering. And as you think about it, you can only come up with one common cause: you’re getting older.
Now, absolutely, age can be related to both hearing loss and memory malfunction. But it turns out these two age-associated conditions are also connected to one another. At first, that may sound like bad news (you have to cope with memory loss and hearing loss together…great). But the reality is, the link between memory and hearing loss can often be a blessing in disguise.
Memory And Hearing Loss – What’s The Connection?
Your brain begins to get strained 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? There are numerous ways:
- Constant strain: Your brain will experience a hyper-activation fatigue, especially in the early phases of hearing loss. That’s because your brain will be straining to hear what’s happening out in the world, even though there’s no input signal (your brain doesn’t recognize that you’re experiencing hearing loss, it just thinks things are really quiet, so it devotes a lot of energy trying to hear in that silent environment). This can leave your brain (and your body) feeling fatigued. That mental and physical fatigue often causes memory loss.
- It’s getting quieter: As your hearing begins to diminish, you’re going to experience more quietness (this is particularly true if your hearing loss is neglected). This can be, well, kind of boring for the region of your brain usually responsible for the interpretation of sounds. This boredom may not seem like a serious problem, but disuse can actually cause parts of your brain to weaken and atrophy. This can impact the function of all of your brain’s systems including memory.
- Social isolation: Communication will become harder when you have a hard time hearing. Social isolation will frequently be the outcome, And isolation can bring about memory issues because, again, your brain isn’t getting as much interaction as it used to. When those (metaphorical) muscles aren’t used, they start to weaken. Eventually, social separation can lead to anxiety, depression, and memory problems.
Your Body Has An Early Warning System – It’s Called Memory Loss
Clearly, having hearing loss isn’t the only thing that triggers memory loss. There are lots of things that can cause your memories to begin getting fuzzy, such as illness or fatigue (either mental or physical varieties). As an example, eating right and sleeping well can help help your memory.
Consequently, memory is kind of like the canary in the coal mine for your body. The red flags come out when things aren’t working properly. And having difficulty recalling who said what in yesterday’s meeting is one of those red flags.
Those red flags can be helpful if you’re attempting to keep an eye out for hearing loss.
Loss of Memory Often Points to Hearing Loss
It’s frequently hard to detect the early signs and symptoms of hearing loss. Hearing loss is one of those slowly advancing ailments. Once you actually notice the corresponding symptoms, the damage to your hearing is usually farther along than most hearing specialists would like. But if you have your hearing tested soon after detecting some memory loss, you might be able to catch the issue early.
Getting Your Memories Back
In situations where your memory has already been impacted by hearing loss, whether it’s through social isolation or mental fatigue, treatment of your root hearing issue is the first step in treatment. The brain will be able to get back to its regular activity when it stops stressing and overworking. 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.