Can Hearing Loss be Making You Forgetful?

Confused mature business woman suffering from memory loss

Your entire life can be impacted by age-related hearing loss. Not only is your ability to hear affected, but also your social connections, your professional networks, and even your mental abilities. The way your brain functions, including your mood and memory, can be significantly affected by hearing loss.

The link between cognition and hearing loss isn’t always apparent. For instance, one of the initial symptoms of hearing loss could be forgetfulness, but individuals rarely think that their memory issues are associated with a loss of hearing. Sadly, the truth is that memory loss and hearing loss are closely linked.

What’s the link between memory and hearing loss? Well, the link is at least in part due to the unique ways that hearing loss can strain and stress your brain. Your mental abilities will normally improve when you manage your hearing loss.

How memory is impacted by hearing loss

Detecting hearing loss can frequently be challenging. It’s not unusual for individuals to miss the more subtle and early signs. Hearing loss might only be identified, for people in this category, when it becomes more severe. The advancement of hearing loss is usually gradual over time and that’s in part why it’s initially difficult to detect. It’s commonly 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 harder to understand what people are saying as a result. This is beneficial in that you will probably experience fewer interruptions to your daily life. But it takes a significant amount of brain power to compensate like this. Requiring your brain to perform at this level for long periods can result in:

  • Unexplained irritability
  • Memory loss or forgetfulness
  • Chronic fatigue

We will be able to help you figure out whether these symptoms are due to hearing loss or not. In situations where hearing loss is present, we’ll work with you to develop a treatment plan.

Can hearing loss result in memory issues?

Of course, this mental fatigue isn’t the only way that hearing loss can affect your brain. Forgetfulness is a prevalent symptom. This is especially true of neglected hearing loss. The cause and effect relationship isn’t fully understood, but it’s clear that there is a relationship between hearing loss and the following issues:

  • Social isolation: It’s not uncommon for individuals to withdraw from social contact when they have untreated hearing loss. They will frequently avoid conversations and will do things like using self-checkout rather than talking to a cashier. Over time, this sort of solitude can alter the way your brain is working.
  • Increased risk of depression and anxiety: Research has shown that neglected hearing loss can also result in increases in both depression and anxiety over time. Again, this risk has been shown to drop when the underlying hearing loss is effectively managed.
  • Increased risk of dementia: Individuals who have untreated hearing loss often have an increased risk of dementia and cognitive decline. When the hearing loss is effectively treated, the risk decreases substantially.

All of these problems are obviously intertwined. Mental health problems, including depression, can be intensified by social isolation. And your risk of dementia also increases with social isolation.

Does hearing loss cause cognitive decline?

Your risk of cognitive decline and dementia is increased by untreated hearing loss, and that’s one of the more severe consequences of neglecting your hearing problems. It’s quite clear that management of the symptoms helps significantly and scientists have a few theories as to why. In other words, treating your hearing loss has been shown to slow down cognitive decline and lower your risk of developing dementia down the road.

How to handle your forgetfulness (and hearing loss)

If your fatigue and forgetfulness are caused by untreated hearing loss, the good news is that managing your hearing loss symptoms can absolutely have a positive impact. Here are a few things we might recommend if hearing loss is detected:

  • The use of hearing aids: You will hear better with the use of a hearing aid. This can result in 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: Some of the mental decline previously discussed can be avoided and additional damage can be minimized by using hearing protection.
  • Regular screenings: Regular screenings can help you identify issues with your hearing before they become significant issues. Cognitive strain can be avoided with early management.

You can improve your memory

You can regain strength of memory even if hearing loss is currently causing a little forgetfulness. In many cases, mental functions will come back once your brain doesn’t need to strain so hard. When your brain doesn’t have to work as hard to hear, the rest can be very helpful.

Make an appointment with us so that we can help you significantly improve your outlook and decrease your risk of other issues.

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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