Audiology Associates of North Florida - Tallahassee, FL

Woman struggling with a crossword puzzle because she has hearing loss induced memory loss.

Last night, did you turn up the volume on your TV? If so, it might be an indication of hearing loss. The challenge is… you can’t quite remember. And that’s been happening more frequently, also. You couldn’t even remember the name of your new co-worker when you were at work yesterday. You just met her, but even so, it feels like you’re losing your grip on your hearing and your memory. And as you think about it, you can only formulate one common cause: aging.

Certainly, both memory and hearing can be affected by age. But it’s even more relevant that these two can also be linked to each other. At first, that may sound like bad news (not only do you have to cope with hearing loss, you have to work around your waning memory too, wonderful). But the truth is, the connection between hearing loss and memory can often be a blessing in disguise.

Memory And Hearing Loss – What’s The Connection?

Your brain begins to get taxed 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 impacted by hearing loss? Well, there are several different ways:

  • Constant strain: In the early stages of hearing loss especially, your brain is going to experience a kind of hyper-activation exhaustion. That’s because your brain will be straining 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 recognizing you have hearing loss, it believes that everything is quiet). This can leave your brain (and your body) feeling exhausted. Loss of memory and other problems can be the outcome.
  • Social isolation: Communication will become strained when you have a hard time hearing. Social isolation will often be the outcome, And isolation can result in memory problems because, again, your brain isn’t getting as much interaction as it once did. The brain will keep getting weaker the less it’s used. Social isolation, depression, and memory problems will, over time, develop.
  • An abundance of quiet: As your hearing starts to waver, you’re going to experience more quietness (particularly if your hearing loss is overlooked and neglected). For the regions of your brain that interprets sound, this can be rather dull. This boredom might not seem like a serious issue, but lack of use can actually cause portions of your brain to weaken and atrophy. That can cause a certain degree of overall stress, which can impact your memory.

Your Body Has An Early Warning System – It’s Called Memory Loss

Memory loss isn’t unique to hearing loss, of course. There are plenty of things that can cause your recollections to start to get fuzzy, and that includes illness or fatigue (either mental or physical varieties). As an example, eating right and sleeping well can help help your memory.

Consequently, memory is sort of like the canary in the coal mine for your body. Your brain starts raising red flags when things aren’t working properly. And one of those red flags is forgetting what your friend said yesterday.

Those red flags can be helpful if you’re trying to watch out for hearing loss.

Loss of Memory Often Points to Hearing Loss

It’s frequently difficult to recognize the early signs and symptoms of hearing loss. Hearing loss doesn’t develop instantly. Damage to your hearing is commonly further along than you would like by the time you actually notice the symptoms. However, if you begin identifying symptoms related to memory loss and get an exam early, there’s a strong possibility 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 fatigue or social separation, the first step is to treat the underlying hearing problem. When your brain stops overworking and straining, 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 red flags 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 certainly a lesson worth remembering.

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