How Hearing Loss Affects Your Memory

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

Did you turn up the TV last night? It might be a sign of hearing loss if so. The problem is… you can’t quite remember. And that’s starting become more of a problem recently. You couldn’t even remember the name of your new co-worker when you were at work yesterday. You just met her, but even so, it feels 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: you’re getting older.

Now, sure, age can be related to both loss of hearing and memory malfunction. But it turns out these two age-associated symptoms are also linked to each other. That might sound like bad news initially (you have to cope with memory loss and hearing loss at the same time…great). But the truth is, the link between hearing loss and memory can often be a blessing in disguise.

The Connection 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 does a deficiency of your ear affect so much of your brain? Well, there are a few different ways:

  • Social isolation: When you have a hard time hearing, you’ll likely encounter some additional struggles communicating. Social isolation will often be the result, Again, your brain is lacking vital interaction which can lead to memory issues. When those (metaphorical) muscles aren’t engaged, they start to weaken. Social isolation, depression, and memory issues will, over time, set in.
  • It’s becoming quieter: As your hearing starts to diminish, you’re going to experience more quietness (especially if your hearing loss goes unnoticed and neglected). This can be, well, kind of boring for the region of your brain normally responsible for the interpretation of sounds. And if the brain isn’t used it starts to weaken and atrophy. This can affect the function of all of your brain’s systems and that includes memory.
  • Constant strain: Your brain will experience a hyper-activation fatigue, particularly in the early phases of hearing loss. 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 hearing loss, it just thinks things are really quiet, so it gives a lot of energy attempting to hear in that quiet environment). Your brain and your body will be left fatigued. That mental and physical fatigue often results in memory loss.

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. Physical or mental fatigue or illness, among other things, can cause loss of memory. Eating better and sleeping well, for example, can often increase your memory.

This can be an example of your body putting up red flags. The red flags go up when things aren’t working right. And having trouble recollecting who said what in yesterday’s meeting is one of those red flags.

Those red flags can be useful if you’re attempting to watch out for hearing loss.

Hearing Loss is Frequently Linked to Memory Loss

It’s frequently hard to detect the early signs and symptoms of hearing loss. Hearing loss doesn’t develop instantly. Damage to your hearing is commonly worse than you would want by the time you actually observe the symptoms. But if you get your hearing checked soon after noticing some memory loss, you may be able to catch the problem early.

Retrieving Your Memory

In situations where hearing loss has impacted your memory, either via mental fatigue or social isolation, the first step is to deal with the underlying hearing issue. When your brain stops struggling and over stressing, it’ll be able to return to its regular 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 safeguarding 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.