Can Hearing Loss be Making You Forgetful?


Confused mature business woman suffering from memory loss

Age-associated hearing loss can have diverse impacts across your entire life. Besides your ability to hear, your professional life, your social life, and even your mental clarity can also be impacted. The way your brain functions, including your memory and mood, can be significantly affected by hearing loss.

Sometimes, the relationship between hearing loss and cognition is subtle. For example, one of the earliest symptoms of hearing loss may be forgetfulness, but individuals rarely think that their memory issues are linked to a loss of hearing. Sadly, the truth is that memory loss and hearing loss are closely linked.

What does loss of hearing have to do with memory? Well, hearing loss puts a distinctive strain on your brain and that’s, at least in part, the link. Usually, when your hearing loss symptoms are effectively managed, your cognitive abilities will sharpen.

How memory is impacted by hearing loss

Hearing loss can be difficult to detect. Frequently, people miss the early warning signs and more discreet symptoms. For these individuals hearing loss might only become obvious once it has become moderate or severe. In part, that’s because hearing loss has a tendency to develop quite gradually. It’s commonly easy to ignore symptoms and, basically, 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 harder to understand what people are saying as a result. This is advantageous in that you will probably experience fewer interruptions to your daily life. However, compensating like this requires substantial brain power. Here are a few consequences of asking your brain to do this over long time periods.:

  • Unexplained irritability
  • Memory loss or forgetfulness
  • Chronic fatigue

If you’re noticing these symptoms, we’ll be able to inform you whether the root cause is 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 hearing loss result in memory problems?

Obviously, your brain can be affected by hearing loss in other ways besides mental exhaustion. Forgetfulness is frequently a prominent presentation. When hearing loss has gone untreated, this is especially true. The cause and effect relationship is not fully understood, but it’s clear that there is a relationship between hearing loss and the following problems:

  • 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 shown to decrease when the root hearing loss is successfully managed.
  • Increased risk of dementia: The danger of dementia and other forms of cognitive decline is greater for people with neglected hearing loss. This risk declines considerably when the hearing loss is treated and managed.
  • Social isolation: People with untreated hearing loss will frequently begin to isolate themselves from others. You’ll go out less often, chat with the cashier at the grocery store less, and so on. Over time, this type of solitude can alter the way your brain is working.

These problems are not unrelated, of course. Social isolation can exacerbate depression and other cognitive health issues. Similarly, that type of isolation can also raise your risk of developing dementia.

Can mental decline be caused by hearing loss?

Your risk of cognitive decline and dementia is increased by neglected hearing loss, and that’s one of the more serious consequences of neglecting your hearing problems. Scientists have a few theories about why this might be, but what’s clear is that management of symptoms helps considerably. In other words, treating your hearing loss has been shown to slow mental decline and decrease your risk of developing dementia down the road.

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 managing your hearing loss symptoms can definitely have a positive impact. In cases where hearing loss is detected, we may recommend the following:

  • Regular screenings: Routine screenings can help you identify issues with your hearing before they become significant problems. Treating your hearing loss early can prevent mental strain.
  • Hearing protection: Some of the cognitive decline previously discussed can be avoided and additional damage can be decreased by using hearing protection.
  • 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. By preventing and decreasing social isolation, your cognition can improve, lowering your risk of dementia, depression, and other problems.

You don’t have to stay forgetful!

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

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

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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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