Hearing Associates of Libertyville, IL

Confused mature business woman suffering from memory loss

Your entire life can be impacted by age-related hearing loss. Not only is your ability to hear affected, but so too are your social life, your professional networks, and even your cognitive abilities. The way your brain functions, including your mood and memory, can be significantly affected by hearing loss.

The relationship between cognition and hearing loss isn’t always evident. People typically don’t relate their memory problems, for example, with hearing loss even though it’s one of the first symptoms. Unfortunately, the truth is that memory loss and hearing loss are closely connected.

What’s the link between memory and hearing loss? Well, the relationship is at least in part the result of the unique ways that hearing loss can strain and stress your brain. Often, when your hearing loss symptoms are successfully managed, your cognitive abilities will sharpen.

How hearing loss effects memory

Detecting hearing loss can often be difficult. It isn’t unusual for individuals to miss the more discreet and early signs. For these people hearing loss may only become obvious once it has become moderate or severe. The development of hearing loss is usually gradual over time and that’s in part why it’s initially hard to detect. Individuals often begin raising the volume on their devices more and more and tend to dismiss their symptoms.

Additionally, the human brain is really good at compensating for periodic loss of sounds. You may not detect that it’s becoming more difficult to understand what people are saying as a result. This is beneficial in that you will probably experience fewer disruptions to your daily life. But it takes a considerable amount of brain power to compensate like this. Requiring your brain to execute at this level for long periods can lead to:

  • Chronic fatigue
  • Unexplained irritability
  • Memory loss or forgetfulness

If you’re having these symptoms, we’ll be able to inform you whether the root cause is hearing loss or not. In instances where hearing loss is present, we’ll work with you to formulate a treatment plan.

Can hearing loss cause memory problems?

Of course, this mental exhaustion isn’t the only way that hearing loss can affect your brain. Forgetfulness is a common symptom. This is particularly true of untreated hearing loss. Though scientists aren’t entirely clear as to the cause and effect connection, hearing loss has been strongly linked to the following issues.:

  • Social isolation: It isn’t unusual for individuals to disengage from social contact when they have untreated hearing loss. You’ll go out less often, talk with the cashier at the supermarket less, and so on. Over time, this type of isolation can alter the way your brain is working.
  • Increased risk of dementia: The risk of dementia and other forms of mental decline is greater for people with untreated hearing loss. This risk declines dramatically when the hearing loss is treated and managed.
  • Increased risk of depression and anxiety: An increase in anxiety and depression due to neglected hearing loss is not uncommon according to numerous studies. Again, this risk has been shown to drop when the root hearing loss is effectively managed.

These issues aren’t unrelated, of course. Mental health problems, including depression, can be worsened by social isolation. And your risk of dementia also goes up with social solitude.

Can cognitive decline be caused by hearing loss?

Your risk of mental decline and dementia is increased by neglected hearing loss, and that’s one of the more severe consequences of neglecting your hearing issues. Scientists have a few theories about why this may be, but what’s obvious is that management of symptoms helps considerably. In other words, treating your hearing loss has been shown to slow cognitive decline and lower your risk of developing dementia down the road.

How to deal with your forgetfulness (and hearing loss)

If your fatigue and memory loss are caused by untreated hearing loss, the good news is that managing your hearing loss symptoms can absolutely have a positive impact. In cases where hearing loss is identified, we may recommend the following:

  • Regular screenings: Routine screenings can help you detect problems with your hearing before they become significant problems. Cognitive strain can be avoided with early management.
  • The use of hearing aids: You will hear better with the use of a hearing aid. This can lead to less strain on your cognitive abilities and an improvement in your social scenario. Your risk of dementia, depression, and other possible problems can be decreased and your cognition can be improved by limiting your social isolation.
  • Hearing protection: Using hearing protection can counter further degradation of your hearing and, as a result, help prevent some of the cognitive strain described above.

You can improve your memory

If hearing loss is causing you to be a little forgetful, it’s important to emphasize that it doesn’t need to remain that way. In many circumstances, cognitive functions will come back once your brain doesn’t need to strain so hard. When your brain doesn’t need to work as hard to hear, the rest can be very helpful.

Scheduling an appointment with us can significantly improve your outlook and reduce your risk for other problems. Contact us today!

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The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.
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