Woman with hearing loss doing dishes because she forgot to turn the dishwasher on.

Chris has been a little forgetful as of late. She forgot her doctor’s appointment for the second month in a row (time to reschedule again). And before she went to bed she even overlooked running the dishwasher (looks as if she’ll be handwashing her coffee cup today). Things have been getting lost lately. Chris has been feeling mentally fatigued and drained all the time but, curiously, she doesn’t feel forgetful.

It can be hard to put your finger on that feeling until it’s sneaking up on you. Frequently, though, the trouble isn’t your memory, in spite of how forgetful you might appear. The real concern is your hearing. And that means there’s one small device, a hearing aid, that can help you considerably improve your memory.

How to Enhance Your Memory And General Cognitive Function

So, getting a hearing test is the first step to enhance your memory so you will not forget that eye exam and not forget anyone’s name in the next meeting. If you have hearing loss a hearing exam will let you know how severe your impairment is.

Chris hesitates, though, because she hasn’t noticed any symptoms or signs of hearing loss. She doesn’t really have a problem hearing in a noisy room. And when she’s at work, she doesn’t have a problem hearing team members.

But just because her symptoms aren’t obvious doesn’t mean that they aren’t present. As a matter of fact, memory loss is commonly one of the very first detectable symptoms of hearing loss. And it all involves brain strain. It works like this:

  • Slowly and virtually imperceptibly, your hearing starts to diminish.
  • However mild, your ears start to notice a lack of sound input.
  • The sounds that you do hear, have to be boosted and translated which causes your brain to work extra hard.
  • You can’t detect any real difference but in order to comprehend sound your brain has to work overtime.

That kind of continuous strain can be really difficult on your brain’s finite resources. So you have less mental energy for things like, well, memory or for other cognitive processes.

Hearing Loss And Dementia

If you take loss of memory to its most logical extremes, you could end up dealing with something like dementia. And dementia and hearing loss do have a link, though there are a number of other factors at work and the cause and effect relationship remains somewhat murky. Still, those with untreated hearing loss, over time, are at an increased risk for experiencing cognitive decline, beginning with some moderate memory loss and increasing to more extreme cognitive problems.

Keeping Fatigue Under Control Using Hearing Aids

That’s the reason why treating your hearing loss is crucial. According to one study, 97.3% of those with hearing loss who wore hearing aids for at least 18 months showed a significant stabilization or increase in their cognitive abilities.

Similar results have been noted in a variety of other studies. Hearing aids are really helpful. Your general cognitive function increases when your brain doesn’t need to struggle as hard to hear. Memory loss and issues with cognitive function can have lots of complex factors and hearing aids aren’t always a magic bullet.

The First Symptom of Hearing Loss is Often Memory Loss

This type of memory loss is usually temporary, it’s a sign of mental fatigue more than an underlying change in how your brain functions. But if the root problems are not addressed, that can change.

So if you’re recognizing some loss of memory, it can be an early warning of hearing loss. When you first notice those symptoms, you should make an appointment with your hearing specialist. Your memory will likely return to normal when your underlying hearing problems are addressed.

And your hearing will probably improve also. The decline in your hearing will be slowed substantially by wearing hearing aids. These little devices, in a sense, will improve your total health not only your hearing.

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