Did you turn up the TV last night? It might be an indication of hearing loss if so. The problem is… you can’t quite remember. And that’s been happening more frequently, too. 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 hearing and your memory seem to be faltering. And as you rack your brains, you can only formulate one common cause: you’re getting older.
Certainly, both memory and hearing can be impacted by age. But it’s even more significant that these two can also be linked to each other. That might sound like bad news at first (not only do you have to cope with hearing loss, you have to manage your failing memory too, wonderful). But there can be hidden positives to this connection.
Memory And Hearing Loss – What’s The Link?
Your brain starts to become taxed from hearing impairment before you even know 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 impacted by loss of hearing? Well, there are several different ways:
- Constant strain: In the early stages of hearing loss especially, your brain will experience a type of hyper-activation fatigue. This occurs because, even though there’s no external input signal, your brain strains to hear what’s happening in the world (your brain doesn’t recognize that you’re experiencing hearing loss, it just thinks external sounds are very quiet, so it gives a lot of effort attempting to hear in that silent environment). This can leave your brain (and your body) feeling exhausted. Memory loss and other problems can be the outcome.
- Social isolation: Communication will become harder when you have a hard time hearing. Social isolation will frequently be the outcome, Once again, your brain is deprived of vital interaction which can lead to memory problems. When those (metaphorical) muscles aren’t engaged, they start to deteriorate. Social isolation, depression, and memory problems will, over time, set in.
- An abundance of quiet: Things will become quieter when your hearing starts to diminish (this is particularly 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 lack of use can actually cause parts of your brain to atrophy or weaken. This can interfere with the function of all of your brain’s systems including memory.
Your Body Has An Early Warning System – It’s Called Memory Loss
Memory loss isn’t unique to hearing loss, naturally. There are plenty of things that can cause your recollections to start to get fuzzy, such as fatigue and illness (either mental or physical forms). Eating better and sleeping well, for example, can usually improve your memory.
This can be a case of your body throwing up red flags. Your brain starts raising red flags 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.
Hearing Loss is Often Related to Loss of Memory
It’s frequently difficult to recognize the early signs and symptoms of hearing loss. Hearing loss doesn’t develop over night. Damage to your hearing is commonly worse than you would want by the time you actually observe the symptoms. However, if you begin noticing symptoms associated with memory loss and get an exam early, there’s a strong possibility you can prevent some damage to your hearing.
Getting Your Memories Back
In situations where your memory has already been impacted by hearing loss, either via mental exhaustion or social isolation, treatment of your root hearing problem is step one in treatment. When your brain stops overworking and over stressing, it’ll be able to return to its normal activities. Be patient, it can take a while for your brain to adjust to hearing again.
The red flags raised by your memory loss could help you be a little more aware of protecting your hearing, or at least treating your hearing loss. That’s a lesson to remember as you get older.