How Memory is Affected by Hearing Loss

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 a sign of hearing loss if so. But you can’t quite remember and that’s an issue. And that’s becoming more of an issue recently. You couldn’t even remember the name of your new co-worker when you were at work yesterday. You met her recently, but even so, it feels like you’re losing your grip on your memory and your hearing. And there’s only one common denominator you can find: aging.

Now, sure, age can be related to both hearing loss and memory malfunction. But it’s even more significant that these two can also be connected to each other. That might sound like bad news at first (you have to cope with memory loss and hearing loss at the same time…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 Connection?

Hearing impairment can be straining for your brain in a number of ways well before you recognize the decrease in your hearing. Your brain, memory, and even social life can, over time, be overwhelmed by the “spillover”.

How does a deficiency of your hearing impact so much of your brain? Well, there are a few different ways:

  • An abundance of quiet: Things will become quieter when your hearing begins to diminish (this is especially true if your hearing loss is neglected). For the regions of your brain that interprets sound, this can be quite dull. This boredom may not appear to be a serious issue, but disuse can actually cause portions of your brain to weaken and atrophy. That can result in a certain amount of overall stress, which can hinder your memory.
  • Constant strain: In the early stages of hearing loss especially, your brain will experience a sort 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 puts in 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 issues can be the outcome.
  • Social isolation: Communication will become strained when you have a difficult time hearing. Social isolation will commonly be the outcome, 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. Social isolation, depression, and memory problems will, over time, set in.

Loss of memory is an Early Warning System For Your Body

Obviously, having hearing loss isn’t the only thing that causes memory loss. Physical or mental fatigue or illness, among other things, can cause loss of memory. Eating better and sleeping well, for instance, can generally increase your memory.

Consequently, memory is kind of like the canary in the coal mine for your body. Your brain starts raising red flags when things aren’t working properly. And having difficulty recalling who said what in yesterday’s meeting is one of those red flags.

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

Memory Loss Often Indicates Hearing Loss

The signs and symptoms of hearing loss can frequently be difficult to detect. Hearing loss doesn’t happen over night. Harm to your hearing is commonly worse than you would like by the time you actually observe the symptoms. But if you have your hearing tested soon after noticing some memory loss, you might be able to catch the issue early.

Getting Your Memories Back

In situations where your memory has already been affected by hearing loss, whether it’s through social separation or mental exhaustion, treatment of your underlying hearing issue is the first step in treatment. When your brain stops overworking and over stressing, it’ll be capable of returning to its regular activities. It can take several months for your brain to get used to hearing again, so be patient.

The warning signs raised by your memory loss could help you be a little more conscious about protecting your hearing, or at least treating your hearing loss. That’s a lesson to remember as you get older.