Did you turn up the TV last night? If so, it could be a sign of hearing loss. The challenge is… you can’t quite remember. And that’s been happening more frequently, 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 memory and your hearing seem to be declining. And there’s only one common denominator you can come up with: you’re getting older.
Now, sure, age can be connected to both loss of hearing and memory failure. But it’s even more significant that these two can also be linked 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 the reality is, the connection between memory and hearing loss can often be a blessing in disguise.
The Link Between Memory And Hearing Loss
Your brain starts to become taxed from hearing impairment before you even realize 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 affected by loss of hearing? There are numerous ways:
- Social isolation: When you have difficulty hearing, you’ll probably experience some added challenges communicating. Social isolation will often be the result, Once again, your brain is lacking vital interaction which can lead to memory problems. When those (metaphorical) muscles aren’t engaged, they start to deteriorate. Social isolation, depression, and memory issues will, over time, set in.
- Constant strain: Your brain will experience a hyper-activation fatigue, particularly in the early phases of hearing loss. This occurs because, even though there’s no actual input signal, your brain strains to hear what’s happening in the world (it devotes a lot of energy trying to hear because without realizing you have hearing loss, it believes that everything is quiet). This can leave your brain (and your body) feeling tired. Loss of memory and other problems can be the result.
- An abundance of quiet: Things will get quieter when your hearing begins to wane (especially if your hearing loss is overlooked and neglected). This can be, well, rather boring for the parts of your brain usually responsible for the interpretation of sounds. This boredom might not seem like a serious issue, but disuse can actually cause portions of your brain to atrophy or weaken. That can lead to a certain degree of generalized stress, which can impact your memory.
Your Body Has An Early Warning System – It’s Called Memory Loss
Obviously, having hearing loss isn’t the only thing that triggers memory loss. Physical or mental illness or fatigue, among other things, can cause memory loss. As an example, eating healthy and sleeping well can help help your memory.
This can be a case of your body putting up red flags. The red flags go up when things aren’t working properly. And one of those red flags is failing to remember what your friend said yesterday.
Those red flags can be helpful if you’re attempting to watch out for hearing loss.
Memory Loss Frequently Points to Hearing Loss
The symptoms and signs of hearing impairment can often be hard to detect. Hearing loss is one of those slow-moving conditions. Harm to your hearing is often further along than you would like by the time you actually notice the symptoms. However, if you begin to notice symptoms associated with memory loss and get an exam early, there’s a good possibility you can avoid some damage to your hearing.
Getting Your Memories Back
In cases where hearing loss has affected your memory, either via mental fatigue or social isolation, the first step is to deal with the underlying hearing issue. When your brain stops overworking and straining, it’ll be able to return to its regular activities. It can take a few months for your brain to re-adjust to hearing again, so be patient.
The red flags raised by your memory loss could help you be a little more conscious about protecting your hearing, or at least managing your hearing loss. As the years begin to add up, that’s definitely a lesson worth remembering.