How Memory is Affected by Hearing Loss

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

Did you turn the TV up last night? It might be an indication of hearing loss if so. But you can’t quite remember and that’s an issue. And that’s been occurring more frequently, too. While working yesterday, you couldn’t even remember your new co-worker’s name. You met her recently, but still, it feels like you’re losing your grip on your hearing and your memory. And as you think about it, you can only formulate one common cause: you’re getting older.

Now, sure, age can be related to both hearing loss and memory failure. But it’s even more significant that these two can also be related to each other. At first, that might seem like bad news (you have to cope with memory loss and hearing loss at the same time…great). But there can be unseen positives to this connection.

Memory And Hearing Loss – What’s The Connection?

Your brain begins to get taxed from hearing loss 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 is so much of your brain affected by loss of hearing? There are numerous ways:

  • An abundance of quiet: As your hearing starts to diminish, you’re going to experience more quietness (this is particularly true if your hearing loss is neglected). This can be, well, kind of boring for the parts of your brain usually responsible for the interpretation of sounds. This boredom may not seem like a serious problem, but lack of use can actually cause parts of your brain to atrophy or weaken. This can impact the function of all of your brain’s systems and that includes memory.
  • Constant strain: Your brain will go through a hyper-activation fatigue, especially in the early phases of hearing loss. This happens because, even though there’s no actual input signal, your brain strains to hear what’s going on in the world (it puts in a lot of energy trying to hear because without recognizing you have hearing loss, it thinks that everything is quiet). Your brain as well as your body will be left exhausted. That mental and physical exhaustion often results in memory loss.
  • Social isolation: Communication will become strained when you have a hard time hearing. That can push some individuals to seclude themselves. And isolation can bring about memory problems because, again, your brain isn’t getting as much interaction as it once did. The brain will continue to weaken the less it’s used. Social isolation, depression, and memory issues will, over time, develop.

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

Memory loss isn’t unique to hearing loss, naturally. There are plenty of things that can cause your memories to start getting fuzzy, such as illness or fatigue (either physical or mental forms). As an example, eating right and sleeping well can help help your memory.

This can be an example of your body throwing up red flags. Your brain starts raising red flags when things aren’t working properly. And having a hard time recollecting who said what in yesterday’s meeting is one of those red flags.

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

Memory Loss Frequently Indicates Hearing Loss

The symptoms and signs of hearing impairment can often be hard to recognize. Hearing loss is one of those slow-moving conditions. Once you actually recognize the associated symptoms, the damage to your hearing is usually farther along than most hearing specialists would like. But if you get your hearing tested soon after detecting some memory loss, you might be able to catch the problem early.

Retrieving Your Memory

In cases where hearing loss has affected your memory, whether it’s through social separation or mental exhaustion, treatment of your underlying hearing issue is step one in treatment. When your brain stops struggling and over stressing, it’ll be capable of returning to its regular activities. Be patient, it can take a bit for your brain to get used to hearing again.

Memory loss can be a practical warning that you need to keep your eye on the state of your hearing and protecting your ears. 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.