Did you turn the TV up last night? If so, it may be an indication of hearing loss. The challenge is… you can’t quite remember. And that’s starting become more of a problem recently. 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 think about it, you can only formulate one common cause: you’re getting older.
Now, absolutely, age can be connected to both loss of hearing and memory malfunction. But it’s even more significant that these two can also be linked to each other. That might sound like bad news at first (you have to deal with memory loss and hearing loss together…great). But there can be unseen positives to this relationship.
Memory And Hearing Loss – What’s The Connection?
Hearing loss can be straining for your brain in a number of ways well before you’re aware of 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:
- It’s becoming quieter: As your hearing begins to diminish, you’re going to experience more quietness (especially if your hearing loss goes unnoticed and neglected). For the regions of your brain that interprets sound, this can be rather dull. This boredom may not appear to be a serious problem, but disuse can actually cause parts of your brain to weaken and atrophy. This can affect the performance of all of your brain’s systems and that includes memory.
- Social isolation: Communication will become strained when you have a difficult time hearing. That can push some people to isolate themselves. Again, your brain is deprived of vital interaction which can bring about memory problems. The brain will keep getting weaker the less it’s used. Social isolation, depression, and memory problems will, over time, set in.
- Constant strain: Your brain will undergo a hyper-activation fatigue, particularly in the early stages of hearing loss. That’s because your brain will be struggling to hear what’s happening out in the world, even though there’s no input signal (it puts in 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. Memory loss and other issues can be the result.
Loss of memory is an Early Warning System For Your Body
Obviously, having hearing loss isn’t the only thing that leads to memory loss. There are plenty of things that can cause your memories to start getting fuzzy, such as fatigue and illness (either mental or physical varieties). Eating better and sleeping well, for example, can often improve your memory.
This can be a case of your body throwing up red flags. The red flags go up when things aren’t working right. And having difficulty recalling who said what in yesterday’s meeting is one of those red flags.
But these warnings can help you know when things are starting to go wrong with your hearing.
Hearing Loss is Often Related to Memory Loss
The symptoms and signs of hearing loss can frequently be difficult to detect. Hearing loss is one of those slow-moving conditions. Harm to your hearing is usually 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 checked out early, there’s a good chance you can avoid some damage to your hearing.
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 underlying 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. It can take several months for your brain to re-adjust to hearing again, so be patient.
The warning signs raised by your loss of memory could help you be a little more conscious about protecting your hearing, or at least treating your hearing loss. As the years begin to add up, that’s certainly a lesson worth remembering.