Last night, did you turn the volume up on your TV? If you did, it might be an indication of hearing loss. But you can’t quite remember and that’s a problem. And that’s becoming more of an issue recently. While working yesterday, you couldn’t even 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 just one common denominator you can think of: you’re getting older.
Now, sure, age can be related to both loss of hearing and memory failure. But it turns out these two age-associated symptoms are also related to each other. At first, that may seem like bad news (not only do you have to deal with hearing loss, you have to manage your waning memory too, wonderful). But there can be hidden positives to this relationship.
Memory And Hearing Loss – What’s The Relationship?
Hearing impairment can be straining for your brain in numerous ways well before you recognize the decrease in your hearing. 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 such a large part of your brain? There are several ways:
- An abundance of quiet: As your hearing begins to diminish, you’re going to experience more quietness (this is especially true if your hearing loss is neglected). This can be, well, kind of boring for the parts of your brain normally responsible for the interpretation of sounds. And if the brain isn’t used it begins to weaken and atrophy. That can cause a certain amount of generalized stress, which can impact your memory.
- Social isolation: Communication will become strained when you have a hard time hearing. That can push some people to seclude themselves. And isolation can result in memory problems because, again, your brain isn’t getting as much interaction as it used to. The brain will continue to weaken the less it’s used. Eventually, social separation can lead to anxiety, depression, and memory issues.
- Constant strain: In the early phases of hearing loss especially, your brain is going to experience a kind of hyper-activation fatigue. That’s because your brain will be straining to hear what’s taking place out in the world, even though there’s no input signal (your brain doesn’t know that you’re experiencing hearing loss, it just thinks external sounds are really quiet, so it devotes a lot of effort attempting to hear in that silent environment). Your brain and your body will be left exhausted. That mental and physical fatigue often leads to memory loss.
Your Body Has An Early Warning System – It’s Called Memory Loss
Clearly, having hearing loss isn’t the only thing that causes memory loss. There are lots of things that can cause your recollections to start getting fuzzy, and that includes fatigue and illness (either mental or physical varieties). As an example, eating right and sleeping well can help improve your memory.
Consequently, memory is kind of like the canary in the coal mine for your body. Your brain begins to raise red flags when things aren’t working precisely. And having a hard time recalling who said what in yesterday’s meeting is one of those red flags.
Those red flags can be useful if you’re attempting to watch out for hearing loss.
Loss of Memory Frequently Points to Hearing Loss
The signs and symptoms of hearing impairment can frequently be difficult to notice. Hearing loss is one of those slow-moving conditions. Damage to your hearing is usually worse than you would want by the time you actually observe the symptoms. However, if you start identifying symptoms connected to memory loss and get an exam early, there’s a good chance you can avoid some damage to your hearing.
Retrieving Your Memory
In instances where hearing loss has affected your memory, either via mental fatigue or social isolation, the first task is to deal with the underlying hearing problem. When your brain stops overworking and over stressing, it’ll be capable of returning to its normal activities. Be patient, it can take a bit for your brain to adjust to hearing again.
The red flags raised by your loss of memory could help you be a little more aware of protecting your hearing, or at least treating your hearing loss. As the years start to add up, that’s definitely a lesson worth remembering.