How Hearing Loss Affects Your Memory

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

Did you turn the TV up last night? If so, it might be an indication of hearing loss. But you can’t quite remember and that’s a problem. And that’s starting become more of a problem recently. While working yesterday, you couldn’t even remember your new co-worker’s name. Yes, you just met her but your hearing and your memory seem to be faltering. And as you think about it, you can only come up with one common cause: you’re getting older.

Now, absolutely, age can be related to both loss of hearing and memory failure. But it turns out these two age-associated conditions are also connected to one another. That may sound like bad news at first (you have to deal with memory loss and hearing loss together…great). But the truth is, the relationship between memory and hearing loss can often be a blessing in disguise.

Memory And Hearing Loss – What’s The Relationship?

Your brain begins to get strained from hearing impairment before you even know 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 ear affect so much of your brain? There are several ways:

  • An abundance of quiet: Things will get quieter when your hearing begins to wane (this is particularly true if your hearing loss is neglected). For the regions of your brain that interprets sound, this can be quite dull. And if the brain isn’t used it starts to weaken and atrophy. This can interfere with the function of all of your brain’s systems and that includes memory.
  • Social isolation: When you have difficulty hearing, you’ll probably experience some extra challenges communicating. Social isolation will often be the result, And isolation can result in memory problems because, again, your brain isn’t getting as much interaction as it used to. When those (metaphorical) muscles aren’t engaged, they start to deteriorate. In the long run, social separation can lead to anxiety, depression, and memory problems.
  • Constant strain: Your brain will undergo a hyper-activation fatigue, especially in the early phases of hearing loss. That’s because your brain will be straining to hear what’s happening out in the world, even though there’s no input signal (it devotes a lot of energy trying to hear because without realizing you have hearing loss, it thinks that everything is quiet). Your brain as well as your body will be left exhausted. Memory loss and other problems can be the outcome.

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

Clearly, having hearing loss isn’t the only thing that triggers memory loss. There are plenty of things that can cause your recollections to start to get fuzzy, including fatigue and illness (either mental or physical forms). Eating better and sleeping well, for instance, can usually increase your memory.

Consequently, memory is sort of like the canary in the coal mine for your body. The red flags go up when things aren’t working properly. And one of those red flags is failing to remember what your friend said yesterday.

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

Hearing Loss is Often Related to Memory Loss

It’s frequently hard to recognize the early symptoms and signs of hearing loss. Hearing loss doesn’t develop instantly. Harm to your hearing is often worse than you would like by the time you actually notice the symptoms. However, if you start to notice symptoms related to memory loss and get an exam early, there’s a good chance you can avoid some damage to your hearing.

Retrieving Your Memory

In situations where your memory has already been affected by hearing loss, either via mental exhaustion or social isolation, the first task is to deal with the root hearing problem. When your brain stops struggling and over stressing, it’ll be able to return to its regular activities. 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 managing your hearing loss. As the years start to add up, that’s certainly a lesson worth remembering.

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