Evanston Audiology - Evanston, 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? If you did, it could be a sign of hearing loss. The problem is… you can’t quite remember. And that’s been happening more often, too. You couldn’t even remember the name of your new co-worker when you were at work yesterday. Yes, you just met her but your memory and your hearing seem to be declining. And there’s only one common denominator you can think of: you’re getting older.

Now, absolutely, age can be related to both loss of hearing and memory malfunction. But it turns out these two age-associated conditions are also connected to each other. That may sound like bad news initially (you have to deal with hearing loss and memory loss at the same time…great). But there can be hidden positives to this relationship.

The Connection Between Memory And Hearing Loss

Your brain starts to become strained from hearing loss 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 does a deficiency of your hearing impact so much of your brain? There are numerous ways:

  • Constant strain: Your brain will experience a hyper-activation fatigue, particularly in the early stages of hearing loss. This occurs 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 attempting to hear in that silent environment). This can leave your brain (and your body) feeling exhausted. That mental and physical exhaustion often causes loss of memory.
  • Social isolation: Communication will become strained 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 used to. The brain will continue to weaken the less it’s used. Eventually, social separation can result in anxiety, depression, and memory problems.
  • It’s becoming quieter: As your hearing starts to diminish, you’re going to experience more quietness (this is especially true if your hearing loss is neglected). This can be, well, rather boring for the region of your brain normally responsible for interpreting sounds. This boredom may not seem like a serious problem, but disuse can actually cause portions of your brain to weaken and atrophy. That can cause a certain amount of generalized stress, which can impact your memory.

Loss of memory is an Early Warning System For Your Body

Clearly, 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 to get fuzzy, including illness or fatigue (either mental or physical varieties). As an example, eating right and sleeping well can help help your memory.

This can be a case of your body throwing up red flags. The red flags come out when things aren’t working right. And one of those red flags is failing to remember what your friend said yesterday.

But these warnings can help you know when things are beginning to go wrong with your hearing.

Hearing Loss is Commonly Connected to Memory Loss

The symptoms and signs of hearing loss can frequently be difficult to detect. Hearing loss doesn’t develop over night. Once you actually recognize the associated symptoms, the damage to your hearing is generally more advanced than most hearing specialists would want. But if you get your hearing checked soon after detecting some memory loss, you may be able to catch the problem early.

Retrieving Your Memory

In situations where your memory has already been impacted by hearing loss, whether it’s through social isolation or mental fatigue, the first step is to manage the root hearing issue. When your brain stops overworking and over stressing, it’ll be capable of returning to its regular activities. Be patient, it can take a bit for your brain to adjust to hearing again.

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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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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