How Memory is Affected by Hearing Loss

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 been occurring more frequently, also. You couldn’t even remember what your new co-worker’s name was when you were at work yesterday. You just met her, but even so, it feels like you’re losing your grip on your memory and your hearing. And as you think about it, you can only come up with one common cause: you’re getting older.

Certainly, both memory and hearing can be affected by age. But it turns out these two age-associated conditions are also connected to one another. At first, that might seem like bad news (you have to cope with memory loss and hearing loss together…great). But there can be unseen positives to this connection.

Memory And Hearing Loss – What’s The Link?

Hearing impairment can be straining for your brain in numerous ways well before you’re aware of the decrease in your hearing. 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 ear affect such a large part of your brain? There are numerous ways:

  • It’s getting quieter: As your hearing starts to diminish, you’re going to experience more quietness (this is particularly true if your hearing loss is neglected). For the parts of your brain that interprets sound, this can be rather dull. And if the brain isn’t used it begins to weaken and atrophy. That can result in a certain degree of overall stress, which can hinder your memory.
  • Social isolation: Communication will become harder when you have a hard time hearing. Social isolation will commonly be the consequence, And isolation can lead to memory problems because, again, your brain isn’t getting as much interaction as it used to. The brain will keep getting weaker the less it’s used. Social isolation, depression, and memory problems will, over time, develop.
  • Constant strain: Your brain will go through a hyper-activation fatigue, particularly in the early phases of hearing loss. That’s because your brain will be struggling to hear what’s happening out in the world, even though there’s no input signal (it puts in a lot of energy trying to hear because without recognizing you have hearing loss, it believes that everything is quiet). This can leave your brain (and your body) feeling fatigued. Loss of memory and other problems can be the outcome.

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

Clearly, having hearing loss isn’t the only thing that triggers memory loss. There are lots of things that can cause your recollections to start getting fuzzy, and that includes illness or fatigue (either mental or physical varieties). Eating better and sleeping well, for instance, can usually 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 properly. And one of those red flags is failing to remember what your friend said yesterday.

Those red flags can be helpful if you’re trying to keep an eye out for hearing loss.

Memory Loss Often Indicates Hearing Loss

It’s often difficult to recognize the early symptoms and signs of hearing loss. Hearing loss doesn’t happen instantly. Damage to your hearing is usually further along than you would want by the time you actually observe the symptoms. But if you get your hearing tested soon after detecting some memory loss, you may be able to catch the problem early.

Retrieving Your Memory

In cases where hearing loss has impacted your memory, whether it’s through social separation or mental exhaustion, the first step is to deal with the underlying hearing problem. When your brain stops overworking and straining, it’ll be capable of returning to its regular activities. It can take a few months for your brain to re-adjust to hearing again, so be patient.

Memory loss 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.