Last night, did you turn up the volume on your TV? If you did, it may be an indication of hearing loss. But you can’t quite remember and that’s an issue. And that’s becoming more of a problem recently. You couldn’t even remember the name of your new co-worker when you were at work yesterday. You just met her, but still, it feels like you’re losing your grip on your memory and your hearing. And as you rack your brains, you can only formulate one common cause: you’re getting older.
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. At first, that might seem like bad news (you have to deal with memory loss and hearing loss at the same time…great). 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 diminishing prowess of your ears. 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 hearing loss? There are several ways:
- An abundance of quiet: As your hearing starts to waver, you’re going to experience more quietness (this is particularly true if your hearing loss is neglected). For the regions of your brain that interprets sound, this can be rather dull. This boredom might not appear to be a serious problem, but disuse can actually cause portions of your brain to weaken and atrophy. This can affect the performance of all of your brain’s systems and that includes memory.
- Constant strain: Your brain will experience a hyper-activation fatigue, especially in the early phases of hearing loss. This occurs because, even though there’s no actual input signal, your brain strains to hear what’s taking place in the world (your brain doesn’t know that you’re experiencing loss of hearing, it just thinks things are really quiet, so it gives a lot of effort trying to hear in that quiet environment). Your brain as well as your body will be left exhausted. Memory loss and other problems can be the outcome.
- Social isolation: When you have trouble hearing, you’ll likely experience some additional obstacles communicating. Social isolation will often be the result, Again, your brain is deprived of vital interaction which can bring about memory issues. When those (metaphorical) muscles aren’t engaged, they start to deteriorate. Social isolation, depression, and memory problems will, over time, develop.
Loss of memory is an Early Warning System For Your Body
Memory loss isn’t unique to hearing loss, naturally. There are lots of things that can cause your recollections to start getting fuzzy, including illness or fatigue (either physical or mental varieties). As an example, eating healthy and sleeping well can help improve your memory.
Consequently, memory is kind of like the canary in the coal mine for your body. The red flags come out when things aren’t working properly. And one of those red flags is failing to remember what your friend said yesterday.
But these warnings can help you know when things are starting to go wrong with your hearing.
Hearing Loss is Frequently Connected to Loss of Memory
It’s frequently hard to recognize the early symptoms and signs of hearing loss. Hearing loss is one of those slowly advancing afflictions. Damage to your hearing is often further along than you would want by the time you actually observe the symptoms. However, if you begin identifying symptoms associated with memory loss and get an exam early, there’s a strong chance you can prevent some damage to your hearing.
Retrieving Your Memory
In instances where hearing loss has affected your memory, either via mental exhaustion or social isolation, the first step is to deal with the root hearing issue. The brain will be able to get back to its regular activity when it stops stressing and overworking. It can take several months for your brain to get used to hearing again, so be patient.
The warning signs raised by your memory loss could help you be a little more aware of protecting your hearing, or at least managing your hearing loss. As the years begin to add up, that’s definitely a lesson worth remembering.