Last night, did you turn up the volume on your TV? It may be a sign of hearing loss if you did. But you can’t quite remember and that’s a problem. And that’s been happening more frequently, also. While working yesterday, you couldn’t even remember your new co-worker’s name. You just met her, but still, it seems like you’re losing your grip on your memory and your hearing. And as you think about it, you can only formulate one common cause: you’re getting older.
Now, sure, age can be connected to both loss of hearing and memory malfunction. But it’s even more significant that these two can also be related to each other. That may sound like bad news at first (you have to deal with memory loss and hearing loss at the same time…great). But there can be hidden positives to this relationship.
Memory And Hearing Loss – What’s The Link?
Hearing loss 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 is so much of your brain impacted by loss of hearing? Well, there are several specific ways:
- Constant strain: Your brain will undergo a hyper-activation fatigue, especially in the early stages of hearing loss. This happens because, even though there’s no actual input signal, your brain strains to hear what’s going on in the world (your brain doesn’t recognize that you’re experiencing hearing loss, it just thinks external sounds are really quiet, so it gives a lot of effort trying to hear in that quiet environment). Your brain and your body will be left fatigued. Loss of memory and other problems can be the result.
- Social isolation: Communication will become harder when you have a hard time hearing. Social isolation will often be the result, And isolation can bring about memory issues because, once again, your brain isn’t getting as much interaction as it once did. When those (metaphorical) muscles aren’t engaged, they begin to deteriorate. Social isolation, depression, and memory problems will, over time, set in.
- An abundance of quiet: As your hearing begins to diminish, you’re going to experience more quietness (particularly if your hearing loss is overlooked and untreated). This can be, well, kind of boring for the parts of your brain normally responsible for the interpretation of sounds. This boredom might not appear to be a serious problem, but disuse can actually cause parts of your brain to atrophy or weaken. That can lead to a certain amount of overall stress, which can impact your memory.
Your Body Has An Early Warning System – It’s Called Memory Loss
Memory loss isn’t exclusive to hearing loss, naturally. There are plenty of things that can cause your memories to begin getting fuzzy, including illness or fatigue (either physical or mental varieties). Eating better and sleeping well, for instance, can often improve your memory.
This can be a case of your body throwing up red flags. Your brain starts raising red flags when things aren’t working properly. And having difficulty recollecting who said what in yesterday’s meeting is one of those red flags.
But these warnings can help you recognize when things are starting to go wrong with your hearing.
Hearing Loss is Often Connected to Memory Loss
It’s often hard to recognize the early symptoms and signs of hearing loss. Hearing loss is one of those slowly advancing ailments. Once you actually notice the corresponding symptoms, the damage to your hearing is generally farther along than most hearing specialists would want. However, if you begin identifying symptoms associated with memory loss and get checked out early, there’s a strong chance you can prevent some damage to your hearing.
Getting Your Memories Back
In situations where your memory has already been impacted by hearing loss, either via mental exhaustion or social isolation, treatment of your underlying hearing problem is the first step in treatment. The brain will be able to get back to its regular activity when it stops straining and overworking. Be patient, it can take a while for your brain to get used to hearing again.
The warning signs raised by your memory loss could help you be a little more aware of protecting your hearing, or at least treating your hearing loss. That’s a lesson to remember as you get older.