Can Hearing Loss be Making You Forgetful?

Confused mature business woman suffering from memory loss

Your whole life can be affected by age-related hearing loss. Not only is your ability to hear impacted, but so too are your social life, your professional networks, and even your cognitive abilities. The way your brain functions, including your mood and memory, can be substantially affected by hearing loss.

Sometimes, the connection between hearing loss and cognition is subtle. People typically don’t associate their memory problems, for instance, with hearing loss even though it’s one of the very first symptoms. Unfortunately, the reality is that memory loss and hearing loss are closely related.

What’s the connection between memory and hearing loss? Well, the link is at least partly related to the unique ways that hearing loss can strain and stress your brain. Often, when your hearing loss symptoms are successfully managed, your cognitive abilities will sharpen.

How hearing loss impacts memory

Hearing loss can be difficult to notice. It isn’t unusual for people to miss the more subtle and early signs. Hearing loss may only be identified, for individuals in this category, when it becomes more extreme. In part, that’s because hearing loss tends to progress rather gradually. It’s commonly easy to ignore symptoms and, essentially, raise the volume on your television a little more every few days (or weeks).

Another factor is how good the brain is at compensating for loss of sound. You may not detect that it’s becoming more difficult to understand what people are saying as a result. This is advantageous in that you will most likely experience fewer disruptions to your daily life. But it takes a substantial amount of brain power to compensate in this way. Here are some consequences of asking your brain to do this over long time periods.:

  • Chronic fatigue
  • Unexplained irritability
  • Memory loss or forgetfulness

We will be able to help you determine whether these symptoms are a result of hearing loss or not. If it’s determined that you’re dealing with hearing loss, we can help you establish the best treatment plan.

Can memory issues be the outcome of hearing loss?

Obviously, your brain can be affected by hearing loss in other ways besides fatigue. Forgetfulness is a common symptom. When hearing loss has been neglected, this is especially true. The cause and effect relationship is not entirely understood, but it’s obvious that there is a link between hearing loss and the following issues:

  • Increased risk of depression and anxiety: An increase in anxiety and depression as a result of untreated hearing loss is not uncommon according to multiple studies. Again, this risk has been demonstrated to decrease when the root hearing loss is successfully managed.
  • Increased risk of dementia: The risk of dementia and other forms of mental decline is greater for people with untreated hearing loss. This risk declines considerably when the hearing loss is treated and managed.
  • Social isolation: People with neglected hearing loss will frequently begin to separate themselves from other people. They will often avoid conversations and will do things like using self-checkout instead of talking to a cashier. Your brain will often change the way it processes information as a result.

All of these concerns are obviously intertwined. Social solitude can worsen depression and other mental health problems. And your risk of dementia also increases with social isolation.

Can mental decline be caused by hearing loss?

One of the more severe impacts of untreated hearing loss is a significant increase in your risk of mental decline and dementia. It’s quite clear that management of the symptoms helps significantly and scientists have a few theories as to why. In other words, managing your hearing loss has been shown to slow cognitive decline and lower your risk of developing dementia later in life.

How to handle your forgetfulness (and hearing loss)

If your fatigue and memory loss are caused by neglected hearing loss, the good news is that treating your hearing loss symptoms can absolutely have a positive impact. In cases where hearing loss is identified, we may recommend the following:

  • Regular screenings: Routine screenings can help you identify problems with your hearing before they become substantial problems. Treating your hearing loss early can prevent mental strain.
  • The use of hearing aids: Utilizing a hearing aid can help you hear better. This can lead to less strain on your mental abilities and an improvement in your social situation. Your risk of dementia, depression, and other possible problems can be decreased and your cognition can be improved by limiting your social isolation.
  • Hearing protection: The utilization of hearing protection can prevent further degradation of your hearing and, as a result, help prevent some of the cognitive strain outlined above.

You don’t need to stay forgetful!

If hearing loss is causing you to be a bit forgetful, it’s important to highlight that it doesn’t need to stay that way. Once the strain on your brain is relieved, your cognitive function, in many instances, will improve. When your brain doesn’t need to work as hard to hear, the rest can be very helpful.

Scheduling an appointment with us can drastically improve your outlook and reduce your risk for other issues. Call us today!

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.