We often associate memory loss or cognitive impairment with aging, but a recent study shows a link between hearing loss and cognitive impairment.
There are several ways in which hearing loss can impair memory. You may have trouble retaining information from conversations if your ears cannot detect the tones of what people are saying to you. A worse outcome is that when your ears are damaged, and you strain to listen, your memory declines even more quickly.
Hearing loss often causes major disruptions in daily life, including social gatherings, work meetings, and even private moments. In addition to making it harder to understand conversations and hear directions, hearing loss can lead to stress and other emotional disorders over time.
Pain makes it difficult to sleep, which directly impacts memory formation. People who are in pain tend to have more difficulty remembering events in the long term. Hearing loss causes pain that can leave your mind a little less able to remember daily events.
When people experience hearing loss, isolation and loneliness can become significant issues. They often avoid social gatherings, making them even more isolated than others. People who are isolated for long periods are more likely to become depressed. Depression can have a significant impact on the brain.
Studies on the brains of mice that were isolated for long periods show that their brain cells shrink. The loss of brain mass can put these mice at risk for dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.
3. Cognitive Impairment
The inner ear sensory cells or the auditory nerve responsible for delivering incoming sound signals to the brain may be damaged in nerve-type or sensorineural hearing loss. Hard of hearing people have trouble comprehending what others are trying to communicate.
Whenever you talk, the brain analyzes the noises you hear to understand what you and others are saying. If you can’t hear correctly, your brain has to work harder to interpret the sounds so that it can do its other jobs, like learning and remembering. Auditory fatigue and cognitive overload may result from the increased listening effort needed when you hear poorly.
Stress and anxiety are distinct phenomena, but both impact how we form memories. When people with hearing loss are worried about missing information, the sound of a telephone ringing, or any number of other noises, they fall into a state of anxiety.
We often describe a sense of uneasiness or anxiousness that comes with stress and anxiety in our daily lives. When people with hearing loss ask others to repeat themselves multiple times during a conversation, they often begin to avoid asking questions, causing the next stage of anxiety. The repetition is most troublesome for a person with hearing loss.
Communication can be challenging for the hard of hearing, which often leads to stress and social isolation. Depression has been linked to memory issues like confusion and difficulties thinking. Hard-of-hearing people may have trouble focusing on daily tasks or making judgments. It also causes short-term memory loss.
There are many ways that hearing loss can affect your long-term memory. If you are experiencing hearing loss, you may forget important things or avoid social activities, which can impact the quality of your life.
Hear More Associates are your most trusted hearing care specialists caring for patients throughout Lexington and Greater Boston, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island. We’re the experts, but we’re on your side to help you make the most informed and intelligent decision, explaining everything and helping you make the right decision. If you’re looking for a hearing specialist in Massachusetts, we’ve got you covered. Get in touch with us today and let us know how we can help!