Did you turn the TV up last night? It may be a sign of hearing loss if so. But you can’t quite remember and that’s an issue. 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. You just met her, but even so, it seems like you’re losing your grip on your hearing and your memory. And there’s just one common denominator you can come up with: aging.
Now, absolutely, age can be connected to both hearing loss and memory malfunction. But it’s even more relevant that these two can also be related to each other. At first, that may sound like bad news (you have to deal with hearing loss and memory loss at the same time…great). But the reality is, the relationship between memory and hearing loss can often be a blessing in disguise.
The Link Between Memory And Hearing Loss
Your brain begins to get strained 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 does a deficiency of your ear impact such a large part of your brain? Well, there are a number of different ways:
- Social isolation: Communication will become harder when you have a difficult time hearing. That can lead some individuals to seclude themselves. Once again, your brain is lacking vital interaction which can lead to memory problems. When those (metaphorical) muscles aren’t engaged, they begin to deteriorate. Social isolation, depression, and memory problems will, over time, set in.
- It’s getting quieter: 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, rather boring for the parts of your brain usually responsible for the interpretation of sounds. This boredom might not appear to be a serious problem, but lack of use can actually cause parts of your brain to weaken and atrophy. That can result in a certain degree of overall stress, which can impact your memory.
- Constant strain: Your brain will experience a hyper-activation fatigue, particularly in the early phases of hearing loss. That’s because your brain will be straining to hear what’s happening out in the world, even though there’s no input signal (your brain doesn’t recognize that you’re experiencing hearing loss, it just thinks things are very quiet, so it gives a lot of energy attempting to hear in that silent environment). Your brain and your body will be left exhausted. Memory loss and other issues can be the result.
Your Body Has An Early Warning System – It’s Called Memory Loss
Obviously, having hearing loss isn’t the only thing that leads to memory loss. Mental or physical illness or fatigue, among other things, can trigger loss of memory. As an example, eating right and sleeping well can help improve your memory.
This can be an example of your body throwing up red flags. Your brain begins to raise red flags when things aren’t working correctly. And having difficulty remembering who said what in yesterday’s meeting is one of those red flags.
But these warnings can help you know when things are beginning to go wrong with your hearing.
Hearing Loss is Commonly Related to Loss of Memory
The symptoms and signs of hearing loss can frequently be difficult to detect. Hearing loss is one of those slowly advancing conditions. Once you actually recognize the associated symptoms, the damage to your hearing tends to be more advanced than most hearing specialists would like. However, if you begin to notice symptoms connected to memory loss and get checked out early, there’s a strong possibility you can avoid some damage to your hearing.
Getting Your Memories Back
In situations where your memory has already been impacted by hearing loss, whether it’s through social isolation or mental fatigue, the first step is to deal with the underlying hearing problem. When your brain stops struggling and straining, it’ll be capable of returning to its normal activities. Be patient, it can take a while for your brain to adjust to hearing again.
The warning signs raised by your memory loss could help you be a little more conscious about protecting your hearing, or at least managing your hearing loss. That’s a lesson to remember as you get older.