Is Your Forgetfulness Resulting From Hearing Loss?

Confused mature business woman suffering from memory loss

Age-related hearing loss can have diverse impacts across your overall life. Not only is your ability to hear affected, but so too are your social connections, your professional networks, and even your cognitive abilities. Over time, hearing loss can profoundly impact the way your brain works in ways that immediately impact your mood, your memory, and more.

Sometimes, the relationship between hearing loss and cognition is subtle. For example, one of the initial symptoms of hearing loss may be forgetfulness, but people rarely think that their memory troubles are associated with a loss of hearing. The unfortunate reality is that hearing loss and memory loss go hand-in-hand.

What does loss of hearing have to do with memory? Well, the relationship is at least in part due to the unique ways that hearing loss can strain and stress your brain. Your mental abilities will normally improve when you manage your hearing loss.

How memory is Affected by hearing loss

Noticing hearing loss can frequently be challenging. Often, people miss the early warning signs and more subtle symptoms. For these people hearing loss might only become noticeable once it has become moderate or severe. The advancement of hearing loss is usually gradual over time and that’s in part why it’s initially hard to notice. It’s commonly easy to disregard symptoms and, essentially, raise the volume on your television a little more every few days (or weeks).

In addition, the human brain is very good at compensating for periodic loss of sounds. Consequently, you might not notice that people are harder to understand. The positive thing about this is that your daily life will have fewer disruptions. However, compensating like this requires considerable brain power. Requiring your brain to perform at this level for long durations can result in:

  • Memory loss or forgetfulness
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Unexplained irritability

If you’re having these symptoms, we’ll be able to tell you whether the underlying cause is hearing loss or not. In cases where hearing loss is present, we’ll work with you to establish a treatment plan.

Can hearing loss result in memory problems?

Of course, this mental fatigue isn’t the only way that hearing loss can impact your brain. Forgetfulness is frequently a prominent presentation. This is especially true of untreated hearing loss. The cause and effect relationship is not entirely understood, but it’s clear that there is a link between hearing loss and the following problems:

  • Social isolation: It’s not uncommon for people to disengage from social contact when they have neglected hearing loss. They will frequently steer clear of conversations and will do things like using self-checkout instead of talking to a cashier. Over time, this sort of isolation can change the way your brain is working.
  • Increased risk of dementia: People who have untreated hearing loss have been known to exhibit an increased risk of dementia and cognitive decline. When the hearing loss is effectively managed, the risk goes down substantially.
  • Increased risk of depression and anxiety: An increase in anxiety and depression due to neglected hearing loss isn’t unusual according to numerous studies. And once more, when the root hearing loss has been managed, the risk factor drops substantially.

These problems are not unrelated, of course. Mental health issues, including depression, can be intensified by social solitude. Likewise, that kind of solitude can also raise your risk of developing dementia.

Can mental decline be caused by hearing loss?

One of the more serious impacts of neglected hearing loss is a pronounced increase in your risk of mental decline and dementia. It’s quite clear that management of the symptoms helps substantially and scientists have a number of theories as to why. In other words, managing your hearing loss has been shown to reduce cognitive decline and decrease your risk of developing dementia down the road.

How to handle your forgetfulness (and hearing loss)

If your fatigue and forgetfulness are caused by neglected hearing loss, the good news is that treating your hearing loss symptoms can absolutely have a positive effect. In cases where hearing loss is identified, we might suggest the following:

  • The use of hearing aids: Utilizing a hearing aid can help you hear better. This can lead to less strain on your cognitive abilities and an improvement in your social situation. By avoiding and decreasing social isolation, your cognition can improve, decreasing your risk of dementia, depression, and other issues.
  • Hearing protection: The use of hearing protection can prevent further degradation of your hearing and, as a result, help prevent some of the cognitive strain outlined above.
  • Regular screenings: Before any issues start to occur, regular screenings can detect them. Treating your hearing loss early can prevent cognitive strain.

You don’t have to stay forgetful!

You can recover strength of memory even if hearing loss is currently causing a little forgetfulness. In many instances, cognitive functions will return once your brain doesn’t need to strain so hard. When your brain doesn’t have to work as hard to hear, the rest can be really helpful.

Scheduling an appointment with us can greatly improve your outlook and decrease your risk for other issues. Contact us today!

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.