Last night, did you turn up the volume on your TV? 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 occurring more frequently, also. While you were working yesterday, you weren’t able to 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 rack your brains, you can only formulate one common cause: aging.
Certainly, both memory and hearing can be affected by age. But it turns out these two age-associated symptoms are also related to each other. At first, that might seem like bad news (not only do you have to deal with loss of hearing, you have to manage your waning memory too, wonderful). But there can be unseen positives to this connection.
The Relationship Between Memory And Hearing Loss
Hearing impairment can be straining for your brain in a number of ways well before you recognize 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 does a deficiency of your ear impact such a large part of your brain? There are numerous ways:
- Constant strain: Your brain will go through a hyper-activation fatigue, particularly in the early phases of hearing loss. That’s because your brain will be struggling to hear what’s taking place out in the world, even though there’s no input signal (it devotes a lot of energy trying to hear because without realizing you have hearing loss, it thinks that everything is quiet). This can leave your brain (and your body) feeling tired. That mental and physical fatigue often causes loss of memory.
- Social isolation: Communication will become strained when you have a difficult time hearing. That can lead some individuals to seclude themselves. Once again, your brain is deprived of vital interaction which can result in memory problems. The brain will keep getting weaker the less it’s used. Social isolation, depression, and memory issues will, over time, develop.
- An abundance of quiet: As your hearing begins to waver, you’re going to experience more quietness (especially if your hearing loss is overlooked and untreated). For the parts of your brain that interprets sound, this can be quite 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. That can result in a certain degree of overall stress, which can hinder your memory.
Your Body Has An Early Warning System – It’s Called Memory Loss
Memory loss isn’t exclusive to hearing loss, naturally. Physical or mental illness or fatigue, among other things, can trigger memory loss. Eating better and sleeping well, for example, can often increase your memory.
This can be an example of your body putting up red flags. The red flags come out when things aren’t working properly. And having a hard time recollecting 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 Often Connected to Loss of Memory
It’s often hard to recognize the early symptoms and signs of hearing loss. Hearing loss doesn’t develop instantly. Harm to your hearing is usually further along than you would want by the time you actually observe 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.
Retrieving Your Memory
In situations where hearing loss has affected your memory, whether it’s through social separation or mental fatigue, treatment of your underlying hearing problem is the first step in treatment. When your brain stops struggling and over stressing, it’ll be capable of returning to its normal activities. It can take several months for your brain to re-adjust to hearing again, so be patient.
The warning signs raised by your memory loss 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.