How Hearing Loss Affects Your Memory

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? If you did, it might be a sign of hearing loss. But you can’t quite remember and that’s an issue. And that’s been happening more frequently, also. While you were working yesterday, you weren’t able to remember your new co-worker’s name. You met her recently, but even so, it seems like you’re losing your grip on your hearing and your memory. And as you think about it, you can only come up with one common cause: you’re getting older.

Certainly, both hearing and memory can be affected by age. But it’s even more relevant that these two can also be linked to each other. That might sound like bad news at first (you have to deal with memory loss and hearing loss together…great). But there can be unseen positives to this relationship.

The Link Between Memory And Hearing Loss

Hearing loss can be straining for your brain in numerous ways well before you recognize the diminishing prowess of your ears. Your brain, memory, and even social life can, over time, be overwhelmed by the “spillover”.

How is so much of your brain impacted by loss of hearing? Well, there are a number of different ways:

  • Constant strain: Your brain will undergo a hyper-activation fatigue, particularly in the early phases of hearing loss. That’s because your brain will be struggling to hear what’s taking place out in the world, even though there’s no input signal (your brain doesn’t know that you’re experiencing hearing loss, it just thinks external sounds are really quiet, so it gives a lot of effort attempting to hear in that silent environment). Your brain as well as your body will be left exhausted. That mental and physical exhaustion often leads to loss of memory.
  • Social isolation: Communication will become harder when you have a hard time hearing. Social isolation will often be the result, And isolation can lead to memory issues because, once again, your brain isn’t getting as much interaction as it once did. When those (metaphorical) muscles aren’t used, they start to weaken. Eventually, social separation can result in anxiety, depression, and memory problems.
  • It’s becoming quieter: As your hearing starts to diminish, you’re going to experience more quietness (this is especially true if your hearing loss is neglected). This can be, well, rather boring for the parts of your brain usually responsible for interpreting sounds. This boredom might not seem like a serious issue, but disuse can actually cause parts of your brain to atrophy or weaken. This can impact the function of all of your brain’s systems including memory.

Memory Loss is an Early Warning System For Your Body

Memory loss isn’t exclusive to hearing loss, naturally. There are lots of things that can cause your recollections to begin to get fuzzy, such as fatigue and illness (either physical or mental varieties). As an example, eating right and sleeping well can help improve your memory.

This can be a case of your body putting up red flags. The red flags come out when things aren’t working right. 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 beginning to go wrong with your hearing.

Hearing Loss is Often Linked to Loss of Memory

The signs and symptoms of hearing loss can frequently be difficult to notice. Hearing loss is one of those slow-moving ailments. Damage to your hearing is often further along than you would like by the time you actually notice the symptoms. But if you get your hearing tested soon after noticing some memory loss, you might be able to catch the problem early.

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 task is to deal with the underlying hearing issue. When your brain stops struggling and straining, it’ll be capable of returning to its normal activities. Be patient, it can take a bit for your brain to get used to hearing again.

Loss of memory can be a practical warning that you need to pay attention to the state of your hearing and safeguarding 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.