Hearing and Memory: How are They Connected?
Hearing is an essential part of the way your brain processes the world around you. It helps you to communicate, connect with people, understand your surroundings, and keeps you safe. It also helps you form memories. When you can’t hear well, however, it may cause you trouble with your memory. With approximately 48 million Americans experiencing some degree of hearing loss, it’s important to understand the impact that can have on your brain.
You Hear with Your Brain
You may think hearing happens in the ears, but it actually happens in the brain. As sound waves move from the outer ear through to your inner ear, tiny hair cells send signals through a complex system of nerve pathways to the brain to process. Your brain then stores the information that it heard.
Hearing Loss Can Lead to Memory Loss
If any part of your auditory system is damaged, blocked, or interrupted, it can lead to difficulty maintaining spoken information. Hearing loss has many causes and can range from mild to profound. It can be permanent or have a viable solution to restore your hearing. Any type of hearing loss can have an impact on your brain and memory, especially when left untreated.
Hearing loss can affect your memory in a few ways. One way is by affecting your concentration on the situation at hand. If you’re spending your time and energy trying to catch what someone is saying, rather than just absorbing it, you might miss some critical information and not be able to retain what you do hear.
Hearing Loss Leads to Stress
Your memory can also be affected by the anxiety and depression that often accompanies hearing loss. Hearing loss has been shown to have a negative effect on mental health. It can cause you to feel stress about what underlying conditions might be causing your hearing loss, and it can also make you feel lonely and isolated from the world around you. Not being able to hear in close conversation might cause you to withdraw from social settings altogether. Depression and anxiety can impair your memory and cause you to block out certain information and situations.
Not all memory loss is caused by hearing loss, but if you are experiencing trouble with your memory, it’s a good idea to visit a hearing healthcare professional. They will be able to evaluate your level of hearing, symptoms, and provide solutions to help you.
If you’re concerned about hearing loss or you are having a hard time remembering spoken information, contact our practice to schedule your hearing exam. The sooner you act, the sooner we can help you.