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 an indication of hearing loss if you did. The challenge is… you can’t quite remember. And that’s starting become more of an issue recently. While you were 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 formulate one common cause: aging.

Certainly, both hearing and memory can be affected by age. But it’s even more significant that these two can also be connected to each other. That might sound like bad news at first (not only do you have to deal with loss of hearing, you have to manage your failing memory too, wonderful). But there can be hidden positives to this relationship.

Memory And Hearing Loss – What’s The Connection?

Hearing loss can be taxing for your brain in numerous ways long before you’re aware of the decrease in your hearing. 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 impact such a large part of your brain? Well, there are a number of distinct ways:

  • Constant strain: Your brain will experience a hyper-activation fatigue, especially in the early phases of hearing loss. 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 (your brain doesn’t recognize that you’re experiencing loss of hearing, it just thinks external sounds are very quiet, so it devotes a lot of effort trying to hear in that quiet environment). Your brain as well as your body will be left exhausted. That mental and physical exhaustion often causes loss of memory.
  • Social isolation: When you have a hard time hearing, you’ll likely experience some additional obstacles communicating. Social isolation will often be the result, And isolation can bring about memory issues because, again, your brain isn’t getting as much interaction as it used to. The brain will keep getting weaker the less it’s used. Over time, social isolation can lead to anxiety, depression, and memory issues.
  • It’s getting quieter: Things will get quieter when your hearing starts to diminish (especially if your hearing loss goes unnoticed and untreated). This can be, well, rather boring for the parts of your brain normally responsible for interpreting sounds. And if the brain isn’t used it starts to weaken and atrophy. This can interfere with 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 exclusive to hearing loss, naturally. There are lots of things that can cause your memories to begin getting fuzzy, and that includes fatigue and illness (either mental or physical varieties). Eating better and sleeping well, for example, can often improve your memory.

This can be a case of your body putting up red flags. The red flags go up when things aren’t working properly. And having a hard time recalling who said what in yesterday’s meeting is one of those red flags.

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

Hearing Loss is Often Linked to Loss of Memory

It’s frequently difficult to recognize the early signs and symptoms of hearing loss. Hearing loss doesn’t happen instantly. Harm to your hearing is usually further along 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 strong possibility you can avoid some damage to your hearing.

Getting Your Memories Back

In cases where hearing loss has affected your memory, either via mental exhaustion or social separation, the first task is to treat 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 bit for your brain to adjust to hearing again.

The red flags raised by your memory loss could help you be a little more aware of protecting your hearing, or at least treating your hearing loss. That’s a lesson to remember as you get older.

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.