Hearing Associates of Libertyville, IL

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? It might be an indication of hearing loss if you did. But you can’t quite remember and that’s a problem. And that’s becoming more of a problem recently. You couldn’t even remember what your new co-worker’s name was when you were at work yesterday. You just met her, but even so, it feels 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.

Certainly, both memory and hearing can be affected by age. But it turns out these two age-associated conditions are also connected to one another. That might sound like bad news initially (not only do you have to cope with hearing loss, you have to work around your failing memory too, wonderful). But the reality is, the connection between hearing loss and memory can often be a blessing in disguise.

Memory And Hearing Loss – What’s The Relationship?

Your brain starts to become strained from hearing impairment before you even know you have it. Your brain, memory, and even social life can, over time, be overwhelmed by the “spillover”.

How is so much of your brain affected by loss of hearing? Well, there are several specific ways:

  • Constant strain: Your brain will undergo a hyper-activation fatigue, particularly in the early phases of hearing loss. This occurs because, even though there’s no external input signal, your brain struggles to hear what’s taking place in the world (it devotes a lot of energy trying to hear because without realizing you have hearing loss, it believes that everything is quiet). This can leave your brain (and your body) feeling fatigued. That mental and physical exhaustion often leads to loss of memory.
  • Social isolation: Communication will become strained when you have a hard time hearing. Social isolation will commonly be the result, And isolation can bring about memory problems because, again, your brain isn’t getting as much interaction as it used to. When those (metaphorical) muscles aren’t engaged, they begin to weaken. Over time, social separation can lead to depression, anxiety, and memory issues.
  • An abundance of quiet: Things will become quieter when your hearing starts to wane (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 the interpretation of sounds. This boredom might not seem like a serious issue, 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 including 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 memories to start getting fuzzy, including fatigue and illness (either physical or mental varieties). Eating better and sleeping well, for example, can often increase 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 precisely. And having a hard time recollecting who said what in yesterday’s meeting is one of those red flags.

Those red flags can be useful if you’re attempting to keep an eye out for hearing loss.

Loss of Memory Frequently Points to Hearing Loss

The signs and symptoms of hearing loss can frequently be difficult to detect. Hearing loss is one of those slowly advancing ailments. Once you actually notice the corresponding symptoms, the damage to your hearing is usually more advanced than most hearing specialists would like. However, if you begin noticing symptoms connected to memory loss and get checked out early, there’s a strong possibility you can prevent some damage to your hearing.

Retrieving Your Memory

In cases where hearing loss has impacted your memory, whether it’s through social separation or mental fatigue, treatment of your root hearing problem is step one in treatment. The brain will be capable of getting back to its regular activity when it stops stressing and struggling. It can take several months for your brain to re-adjust to hearing again, so be patient.

Memory loss can be a practical warning that you need to keep your eye on the state of your hearing and safeguarding your ears. That’s a lesson to remember as you get older.

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