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 a problem. And that’s been occurring more frequently, also. You couldn’t even remember the name of your new co-worker when you were at work yesterday. Yes, you just met her but your hearing and your memory seem to be faltering. And there’s only one common denominator you can find: you’re getting older.
Now, absolutely, age can be related 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 might seem like bad news (not only do you have to cope with hearing loss, you have to manage your waning memory too, wonderful). But there can be unseen positives to this connection.
Memory And Hearing Loss – What’s The Relationship?
Your brain begins to get strained from hearing impairment before you even realize you have it. 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? Well, there are a few distinct ways:
- Constant strain: In the early stages of hearing loss especially, your brain is going to experience a kind of hyper-activation exhaustion. 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 know that you’re experiencing hearing loss, it just thinks things are very quiet, so it gives a lot of effort trying to hear in that quiet environment). This can leave your brain (and your body) feeling exhausted. That mental and physical fatigue often results in memory loss.
- Social isolation: When you have trouble hearing, you’ll probably encounter some additional challenges communicating. That can push some people to seclude themselves. Again, your brain is deprived of vital interaction which can lead to memory issues. When those (metaphorical) muscles aren’t used, they start to weaken. Social isolation, depression, and memory problems will, over time, develop.
- It’s becoming quieter: Things will get quieter when your hearing starts to diminish (this is especially true if your hearing loss is neglected). This can be, well, rather boring for the region of your brain usually responsible for interpreting sounds. And if the brain isn’t used it begins to weaken and atrophy. That can lead to a certain amount of generalized stress, which can impact your memory.
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 memory loss. Eating better and sleeping well, for instance, can usually increase your memory.
This can be an example of your body throwing up red flags. The red flags go up when things aren’t working right. And one of those red flags is failing to remember what your friend said yesterday.
Those red flags can be useful if you’re trying to watch out for hearing loss.
Memory Loss Frequently Indicates Hearing Loss
It’s frequently difficult to detect the early symptoms and signs of hearing loss. Hearing loss is one of those slow-moving conditions. Once you actually notice the corresponding symptoms, the damage to your hearing is usually farther along than most hearing specialists would want. But if you get your hearing tested soon after noticing some memory loss, you may be able to catch the problem early.
Getting Your Memories Back
In situations where your memory has already been affected by hearing loss, either via mental exhaustion or social separation, treatment of your root hearing problem is step one in treatment. The brain will be capable of getting back to its normal activity when it stops straining 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 conscious about protecting your hearing, or at least managing your hearing loss. As the years start to add up, that’s certainly a lesson worth remembering.