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? If so, it might be an indication of hearing loss. The problem is… you can’t quite remember. And that’s becoming more of a problem recently. 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 declining. And as you rack your brains, you can only come up with one common cause: aging.

Certainly, both memory and hearing can be affected by age. But it turns out these two age-associated symptoms are also linked to each other. At first, that may sound like bad news (you have to cope with memory loss and hearing loss at the same time…great). But the truth is, the relationship between hearing loss and memory can often be a blessing in disguise.

Memory And Hearing Loss – What’s The Relationship?

Your brain starts to become taxed from hearing impairment before you even realize you have it. Your brain, memory, and even social life can, over time, be overwhelmed by the “spillover”.

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

  • It’s getting quieter: Things will become quieter when your hearing begins to diminish (particularly if your hearing loss is overlooked and neglected). For the regions of your brain that interprets sound, this can be rather dull. This boredom might not seem like a serious issue, but lack of use can actually cause portions of your brain to weaken and atrophy. That can cause a certain amount of generalized stress, which can interfere with your memory.
  • Constant strain: Your brain will undergo a hyper-activation fatigue, especially in the early phases of hearing loss. This happens because, even though there’s no external input signal, your brain struggles to hear what’s taking place in the world (it devotes a lot of energy trying to hear because without realizing you have hearing loss, it thinks that everything is quiet). Your brain as well as your body will be left exhausted. That mental and physical fatigue often leads to memory loss.
  • Social isolation: When you have a hard time hearing, you’ll likely experience some added struggles communicating. That can push some people to seclude themselves. Once again, your brain is deprived of vital interaction which can result in memory issues. The brain will continue to weaken the less it’s used. Social isolation, depression, and memory issues will, over time, set in.

Memory Loss is an Early Warning System For Your Body

Memory loss isn’t exclusive to hearing loss, naturally. There are plenty of things that can cause your recollections to start to get fuzzy, including illness or fatigue (either mental or physical forms). As an example, eating right and sleeping well can help help your memory.

This can be an example of your body throwing up red flags. The red flags come out when things aren’t working right. And having difficulty 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 keep an eye out for hearing loss.

Loss of Memory Often Points to Hearing Loss

It’s often hard to detect the early signs and symptoms of hearing loss. Hearing loss is one of those slow-moving afflictions. Once you actually recognize the associated symptoms, the damage to your hearing is generally farther along than most hearing specialists would want. But if you get your hearing checked soon after noticing some memory loss, you may be able to catch the issue early.

Getting Your Memories Back

In situations where your memory has already been impacted by hearing loss, whether it’s through social separation or mental fatigue, the first task is to treat the root 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 adjust to hearing again.

Memory loss 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. Schedule an appointment to see if hearing aids could benefit you.