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Hearing Aids by Tricia Leagjeld - Redmond, OR

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

Did you turn up the TV last night? If so, it could be an indication of hearing loss. The challenge is… you can’t quite remember. And that’s been happening more frequently, also. You couldn’t even remember what your new co-worker’s name was when you were at work yesterday. You met her recently, but even so, it seems like you’re losing your grip on your hearing and your memory. And as you rack your brains, you can only formulate one common cause: aging.

Now, sure, age can be connected to both hearing loss and memory malfunction. But it’s even more significant that these two can also be connected to each other. At first, that might seem like bad news (not only do you have to deal with hearing loss, you have to work around your waning memory too, wonderful). But there can be hidden positives to this connection.

The Link Between Memory And Hearing Loss

Hearing loss can be taxing for your brain in numerous ways long before you’re aware of the decrease in your hearing. 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 different ways:

  • An abundance of quiet: As your hearing starts to diminish, you’re going to experience more quietness (particularly if your hearing loss is overlooked and neglected). This can be, well, kind of boring for the region of your brain normally responsible for interpreting sounds. And if the brain isn’t used it starts to weaken and atrophy. That can result in a certain degree of overall stress, which can hinder your memory.
  • Constant strain: Your brain will undergo a hyper-activation fatigue, especially in the early phases of hearing loss. This occurs because, even though there’s no external input signal, your brain strains to hear what’s happening in the world (it devotes a lot of energy trying to hear because without recognizing you have hearing loss, it thinks that everything is quiet). Your brain and your body will be left fatigued. Loss of memory and other issues can be the outcome.
  • Social isolation: When you have a hard time hearing, you’ll likely encounter some additional challenges communicating. Social isolation will often be the consequence, And isolation can bring about 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 begin to deteriorate. Over time, social separation can result in depression, anxiety, and memory issues.

Memory Loss is an Early Warning System For Your Body

Obviously, having hearing loss isn’t the only thing that leads to memory loss. There are plenty of things that can cause your recollections to start getting fuzzy, and that includes fatigue and illness (either physical or mental forms). Eating better and sleeping well, for instance, can generally improve your memory.

This can be an example of your body putting up red flags. Your brain begins to raise red flags when things aren’t working precisely. And having difficulty remembering who said what in yesterday’s meeting is one of those red flags.

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

Hearing Loss is Commonly Connected to Memory Loss

The signs and symptoms of hearing impairment can often be difficult to notice. Hearing loss doesn’t happen over night. Once you actually recognize the corresponding symptoms, the damage to your hearing tends to be farther along than most hearing specialists would want. But if you get your hearing checked soon after noticing some memory loss, you might be able to catch the issue early.

Getting Your Memories Back

In situations where your memory has already been impacted by hearing loss, either via mental exhaustion or social isolation, treatment of your underlying hearing problem is step one in treatment. When your brain stops overworking and over stressing, it’ll be able to return 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 safeguarding your ears. That’s a lesson to remember as you get older.

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