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Monroe Hearing Center - Monroe, MI

Confused mature business woman suffering from memory loss

Your overall life can be affected by age-related hearing loss. Not only is your ability to hear impacted, but also your social connections, your professional networks, and even your cognitive abilities. Over time, hearing loss can intensely impact how your brain works in ways that immediately impact your mood, your memory, and more.

The relationship between cognition and hearing loss isn’t always obvious. People typically don’t relate their memory issues, for instance, with hearing loss even though it’s one of the very first symptoms. Unfortunately, the truth is that memory loss and hearing loss are closely linked.

What does hearing loss have to do with memory? Well, the relationship is at least in part related to the unique ways that hearing loss can strain and stress your brain. Often, when your hearing loss symptoms are successfully managed, your mental abilities will sharpen.

How memory is impacted by hearing loss

Hearing loss can be hard to detect. Often, people fail to notice the early warning signs and more discreet symptoms. Hearing loss may only be identified, for individuals in this category, when it becomes more severe. In part, that’s because hearing loss has a tendency to advance quite gradually. It’s often easy to disregard symptoms and, essentially, raise the volume on your television a little more every few days (or weeks).

Another aspect is how good the brain is at compensating for loss of sound. You might not notice that it’s becoming more difficult to understand what people are saying as a result. The positive thing about this is that your daily life will have fewer interruptions. However, compensating like this requires substantial brain power. Requiring your brain to work at this level for long durations can lead to:

  • Memory loss or forgetfulness
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Unexplained irritability

If you’re having these symptoms, we’ll be able to tell you whether the root cause is hearing loss or not. If it’s established that you’re dealing with hearing loss, we can help you establish the best treatment plan.

Can memory problems be the result of hearing loss?

Of course, this mental exhaustion isn’t the only way that hearing loss can affect your brain. Forgetfulness is a common symptom. When hearing loss has gone untreated, this is especially true. The cause and effect relationship isn’t entirely understood, but it’s obvious that there is a link between hearing loss and the following problems:

  • Increased risk of dementia: The danger of dementia and other forms of mental decline is greater for people who have untreated hearing loss. This risk declines considerably when the hearing loss is treated and managed.
  • Social isolation: Individuals with untreated hearing loss will often begin to isolate themselves from others. You’ll go out less frequently, talk with the cashier at the supermarket less, and so on. Your brain will often change the way it processes information as a result.
  • Increased risk of depression and anxiety: An increase in anxiety and depression as a result of untreated hearing loss is not uncommon according to numerous studies. Again, this risk has been demonstrated to drop when the root hearing loss is effectively managed.

These problems are not unrelated, of course. Social isolation can exacerbate depression and other mental health issues. And your risk of dementia also goes up with social isolation.

Does hearing loss cause cognitive decline?

Your risk of mental decline and dementia is increased by neglected hearing loss, and that’s one of the more serious outcomes of neglecting your hearing issues. It’s quite clear that management of the symptoms helps substantially and scientists have a few theories as to why. In other words, managing your hearing loss has been shown to slow down mental decline and decrease your risk of developing dementia later in life.

How to handle your forgetfulness (and hearing loss)

If your fatigue and forgetfulness are caused by neglected hearing loss, the good news is that treating your hearing loss symptoms can definitely have a positive effect. Here are a number of things we might recommend if hearing loss is identified:

  • Hearing protection: Using hearing protection can prevent additional degradation of your hearing and, as a result, help prevent some of the mental strain described above.
  • Regular screenings: Regular screenings can help you identify problems with your hearing before they become substantial issues. Mental strain can be avoided with early management.
  • The use of hearing aids: Using a hearing aid can help you hear better. This can result in less strain on your cognitive abilities and an improvement in your social scenario. By avoiding and limiting social isolation, your cognition can improve, lowering your risk of dementia, depression, and other issues.

You can improve your memory

You can regain strength of memory even if hearing loss is currently causing a little forgetfulness. Once the strain on your brain is alleviated, your cognitive function, in many instances, will sharpen. When your brain doesn’t have to work as hard to hear, the rest can be very helpful.

Scheduling an appointment with us can significantly improve your outlook and reduce your risk for other problems. Contact us today!

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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.
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