How Memory is Impacted by Hearing Loss

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 an indication of hearing loss. But you can’t quite remember and that’s a problem. And that’s starting become more of an issue recently. While you were 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.

Certainly, both hearing and memory can be impacted by age. But it turns out these two age-associated symptoms are also connected to one another. That might sound like bad news initially (you have to deal with memory loss and hearing loss together…great). But there can be hidden positives to this relationship.

The Link Between Memory And Hearing Loss

Your brain starts to become taxed from hearing impairment 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 does a deficiency of your hearing affect so much of your brain? There are numerous ways:

  • Social isolation: When you have trouble hearing, you’ll probably encounter some extra obstacles communicating. That can lead some people to seclude themselves. Once again, your brain is lacking vital interaction which can lead to memory issues. The brain will keep getting weaker the less it’s used. In the long run, social isolation can result in depression, anxiety, and memory issues.
  • Constant strain: In the early stages of hearing loss especially, your brain is going to experience a type of hyper-activation exhaustion. This occurs because, even though there’s no actual input signal, your brain struggles to hear what’s happening 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). This can leave your brain (and your body) feeling fatigued. That mental and physical fatigue often causes memory loss.
  • An abundance of quiet: As your hearing begins 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 region of your brain normally responsible for the interpretation of sounds. This boredom may not seem like a serious problem, but disuse can actually cause portions of your brain to atrophy or weaken. That can result in a certain amount of generalized stress, which can hinder your memory.

Loss of memory is an Early Warning System For Your Body

Memory loss isn’t exclusive to hearing loss, naturally. Mental or physical fatigue or illness, among other things, can trigger loss of memory. As an example, eating right and sleeping well can help improve your memory.

This can be an example of your body throwing up red flags. The red flags go up when things aren’t working right. And having a hard time 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 Frequently Connected to Loss of Memory

It’s often hard to detect the early signs and symptoms of hearing loss. Hearing loss doesn’t happen over night. Harm to your hearing is commonly further along than you would want by the time you actually notice the symptoms. However, if you start noticing symptoms connected to memory loss and get an exam early, there’s a strong possibility you can prevent some damage to your hearing.

Retrieving Your Memory

In situations where your memory has already been affected by hearing loss, whether it’s through social separation or mental fatigue, treatment of your underlying hearing issue is the first step in treatment. The brain will be able to get back to its regular activity when it stops stressing and overworking. It can take a few months for your brain to get used to hearing again, so be patient.

Loss of memory can be a practical warning that you need to pay attention to 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.