Last night, did you turn up the volume on your TV? It may be an indication of hearing loss if so. But you can’t quite remember and that’s a problem. And that’s been happening more often, too. While you were 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 as you think about it, you can only formulate one common cause: aging.
Certainly, both memory and hearing can be affected by age. But it’s even more significant that these two can also be related to each other. That may sound like bad news at first (you have to deal with hearing loss and memory loss at the same time…great). But the truth is, the link between memory and hearing loss can often be a blessing in disguise.
The Link Between Memory And Hearing Loss
Your brain begins to get taxed 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 is so much of your brain affected by hearing loss? Well, there are a few different ways:
- Constant strain: In the early phases of hearing loss especially, your brain will experience a kind of hyper-activation exhaustion. That’s because your brain will be straining to hear what’s going on out in the world, even though there’s no input signal (it puts in a lot of energy trying to hear because without recognizing you have hearing loss, it believes that everything is quiet). This can leave your brain (and your body) feeling exhausted. Loss of memory and other issues can be the result.
- Social isolation: Communication will become strained when you have a difficult time hearing. That can lead some people to seclude themselves. Once again, your brain is lacking vital interaction which can result in memory problems. When those (metaphorical) muscles aren’t used, they begin to weaken. Over time, social isolation can result in depression, anxiety, and memory issues.
- It’s becoming quieter: Things will get quieter when your hearing begins to wane (this is especially true if your hearing loss is neglected). For the parts of your brain that interprets sound, this can be rather dull. This boredom may not appear to be a serious issue, but disuse can actually cause portions of your brain to atrophy or weaken. That can result in a certain amount of generalized stress, which can hinder your memory.
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 lots of things that can cause your recollections to start getting fuzzy, and that includes fatigue and illness (either mental or physical forms). Eating better and sleeping well, for instance, can generally improve your memory.
Consequently, memory is sort of like the canary in the coal mine for your body. Your brain begins to raise red flags when things aren’t working correctly. And one of those red flags is failing to remember what your friend said yesterday.
Those red flags can be useful if you’re attempting to watch out for hearing loss.
Memory Loss Often Points to Hearing Loss
The signs and symptoms of hearing loss can frequently be difficult to notice. Hearing loss is one of those slowly advancing afflictions. Once you actually recognize the associated symptoms, the damage to your hearing tends to be more advanced than most hearing specialists would want. But if you have your hearing checked soon after detecting some memory loss, you may be able to catch the issue early.
Retrieving Your Memory
In situations where your memory has already been affected by hearing loss, whether it’s through social isolation or mental fatigue, the first step is to manage the root hearing problem. When your brain stops struggling and over stressing, it’ll be able to return to its regular activities. It can take a few months for your brain to get used to hearing again, so be patient.
The red flags 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.