How Memory is Affected by Hearing Loss

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

Did you turn up the TV last night? It may be a sign of hearing loss if you did. But you can’t quite remember and that’s an issue. And that’s been happening more often, too. While you were working yesterday, you couldn’t even remember your new co-worker’s name. Yes, you just met her but your memory and your hearing seem to be declining. And as you rack your brains, you can only come up with one common cause: aging.

Certainly, both hearing and memory can be impacted by age. But it turns out these two age-associated conditions are also related to each other. That might sound like bad news at first (you have to cope with hearing loss and memory loss at the same time…great). But there can be hidden positives to this connection.

Memory And Hearing Loss – What’s The Link?

Your brain begins to get taxed from hearing loss before you even know you have it. Your brain, memory, and even social life can, over time, be overwhelmed by the “spillover”.

How does a deficiency of your ear impact so much of your brain? Well, there are a number of specific ways:

  • An abundance of quiet: Things will get quieter when your hearing begins to diminish (especially if your hearing loss is overlooked and neglected). This can be, well, kind of boring for the parts of your brain usually responsible for interpreting sounds. And if the brain isn’t used it begins to weaken and atrophy. This can affect the performance of all of your brain’s systems and that includes memory.
  • Constant strain: Your brain will experience a hyper-activation fatigue, especially in the early stages of hearing loss. That’s because your brain will be struggling to hear what’s happening out in the world, even though there’s no input signal (your brain doesn’t know that you’re experiencing loss of hearing, it just thinks things are very quiet, so it devotes a lot of energy trying to hear in that silent environment). This can leave your brain (and your body) feeling tired. Loss of memory and other problems can be the outcome.
  • Social isolation: Communication will become strained when you have a difficult time hearing. Social isolation will commonly be the outcome, Again, your brain is deprived of vital interaction which can lead to memory problems. When those (metaphorical) muscles aren’t engaged, they start to deteriorate. Eventually, social separation can lead to depression, anxiety, and memory issues.

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

Memory loss isn’t exclusive to hearing loss, of course. Physical or mental illness or fatigue, among other things, can cause loss of memory. As an example, eating right and sleeping well can help help your memory.

This can be a case of your body putting up red flags. Your brain starts raising red flags when things aren’t working correctly. And one of those red flags is failing to remember what your friend said yesterday.

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 detect the early signs and symptoms of hearing loss. Hearing loss is one of those slow-moving conditions. Once you actually recognize the associated symptoms, the damage to your hearing is generally farther along than most hearing specialists would want. However, if you start identifying symptoms connected to memory loss and get checked out early, there’s a good chance you can prevent some damage to your hearing.

Retrieving Your Memory

In situations where your memory has already been impacted by hearing loss, whether it’s through social isolation or mental exhaustion, the first step is to treat the underlying hearing issue. When your brain stops overworking and over stressing, it’ll be capable of returning to its normal activities. Be patient, it can take a while for your brain to get used to hearing again.

Memory loss can be a practical warning that you need to pay attention to the state of your hearing and protecting your ears. As the years begin to add up, that’s definitely a lesson worth remembering.

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.