Did you turn up the TV last night? If so, it could be an indication of hearing loss. But you can’t quite remember and that’s a problem. And that’s been happening more frequently, also. While working yesterday, you couldn’t even remember your new co-worker’s name. 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: aging.
Certainly, both hearing and memory can be impacted by age. But it’s even more relevant that these two can also be related to each other. That might sound like bad news at first (you have to cope with hearing loss and memory loss together…great). But there can be unseen positives to this relationship.
The Connection Between Memory And Hearing Loss
Hearing loss can be straining for your brain in numerous ways long before you’re aware of 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 is so much of your brain affected by loss of hearing? Well, there are a number of specific ways:
- Constant strain: In the early phases of hearing loss especially, your brain is going to experience a type 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 (your brain doesn’t know that you’re experiencing hearing loss, it just thinks external sounds are very quiet, so it devotes a lot of energy attempting to hear in that silent environment). Your brain and your body will be left exhausted. That mental and physical fatigue often causes memory loss.
- It’s getting quieter: As your hearing starts to waver, you’re going to experience more quietness (especially if your hearing loss is overlooked and neglected). This can be, well, kind of boring for the parts of your brain usually responsible for interpreting sounds. This boredom may not appear to be a serious problem, but disuse can actually cause parts of your brain to weaken and atrophy. This can affect the performance of all of your brain’s systems including memory.
- Social isolation: When you have a hard time hearing, you’ll probably experience some extra obstacles communicating. That can push some people to seclude themselves. Again, your brain is lacking vital interaction which can lead to memory issues. When those (metaphorical) muscles aren’t engaged, they start to weaken. In the long run, social isolation can result in depression, anxiety, and memory problems.
Loss of memory is an Early Warning System For Your Body
Memory loss isn’t exclusive to hearing loss, naturally. Physical or mental fatigue or illness, among other things, can trigger loss of memory. Eating better and sleeping well, for instance, can generally improve your memory.
This can be a case of your body putting up red flags. Your brain begins to raise red flags when things aren’t working precisely. 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 keep an eye out for hearing loss.
Loss of Memory Frequently Points to Hearing Loss
It’s frequently hard to recognize the early symptoms and signs of hearing loss. Hearing loss doesn’t happen instantly. Once you actually notice the associated symptoms, the damage to your hearing is generally more advanced than most hearing specialists would like. But if you have your hearing checked 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, either via mental exhaustion or social separation, the first step is to manage the underlying hearing issue. The brain will be capable of getting 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.
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. That’s a lesson to remember as you get older.