How Memory is Affected by Hearing Loss

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

Did you turn the TV up last night? It might be an indication 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 faltering. And there’s just one common denominator you can find: aging.

Certainly, both memory and hearing can be impacted by age. But it’s even more relevant that these two can also be connected to each other. At first, that might sound like bad news (you have to cope with memory loss and hearing loss together…great). But the reality is, the link between memory and hearing loss can often be a blessing in disguise.

The Relationship Between Memory And Hearing Loss

Hearing impairment can be taxing for your brain in a number of ways well before you’re aware of the diminishing prowess of your ears. Though the “spillover” effects may start out small, over time they can expand, encompassing your brain, your memory, even your social life.

How is so much of your brain affected by hearing loss? There are several ways:

  • It’s becoming quieter: As your hearing starts to waver, 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 the interpretation of sounds. This boredom may not appear to be a serious problem, but lack of use can actually cause parts of your brain to weaken and atrophy. That can result in a certain degree of overall stress, which can hinder your memory.
  • Social isolation: When you have trouble hearing, you’ll probably encounter some added obstacles communicating. That can push some individuals to isolate themselves. Again, your brain is lacking vital interaction which can lead to memory problems. The brain will keep getting weaker the less it’s used. Social isolation, depression, and memory issues will, over time, set in.
  • Constant strain: In the early phases of hearing loss especially, your brain will experience a type of hyper-activation exhaustion. This occurs because, even though there’s no actual input signal, your brain strains to hear what’s happening in the world (your brain doesn’t know that you’re experiencing loss of hearing, it just thinks external sounds are very quiet, so it gives a lot of effort trying to hear in that quiet environment). This can leave your brain (and your body) feeling fatigued. That mental and physical fatigue often causes loss of memory.

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

Clearly, having hearing loss isn’t the only thing that leads to memory loss. There are plenty of things that can cause your memories to begin to get fuzzy, and that includes illness or fatigue (either mental or physical forms). Eating better and sleeping well, for instance, can generally increase 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 properly. And one of those red flags is failing to remember what your friend said yesterday.

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

Hearing Loss is Commonly Related to Loss of Memory

The signs and symptoms of hearing impairment can often be hard to detect. Hearing loss is one of those slow-moving ailments. Harm to your hearing is usually worse than you would want by the time you actually observe the symptoms. But if you get your hearing tested soon after noticing some memory loss, you may be able to catch the issue early.

Retrieving Your Memory

In situations where your memory has already been affected by hearing loss, either via mental exhaustion or social isolation, treatment of your root hearing issue is step one in treatment. The brain will be able to get back to its regular activity when it stops stressing and overworking. Be patient, it can take a while for your brain to get used to hearing again.

Loss of memory can be a practical warning that you need to keep your eye on the state of your hearing and safeguarding your ears. As the years start 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.