Does Hearing Loss Affect Memory?

Untreated hearing loss can have an impact on almost every aspect of your life, including your physical, mental and emotional health. A decrease in your ability to retain and recall information is the newest impact experts are associating with hearing loss.

Hearing Loss & Concentration

Man looks out at lake.

In order to follow a conversation, those with hearing loss have to concentrate on what the person is saying as well as try to process that information in order to understand it. This requires a lot of focus.

You may find that when focusing hard on following along with the conversation, you are not storing any of the information that is being discussed. When your brain is working so hard to listen and interpret sounds that it does not have the bandwidth the store what it hears, it is known as cognitive overload.

It is common for those with hearing loss to not remember what they just heard because they are concentrating so hard on trying to hear, their brain never had the opportunity to store any of the information.

Hearing Loss & Isolation

Living with untreated hearing loss can make communicating difficult. Because of this, many find themselves skipping social events, even if they are held safely outside in Lorenzi Park, as it is easier to stay home than to get overwhelmed and frustrated when trying to follow a conversation.

When you spend more time alone, your brain is exposed to fewer stimuli. Slowly over time your brain will become less active, which can lead to structural changes and even cause your brain to shrink.

Changes in your brain can impact its ability to function, affecting your memory.

Central Hearing Loss

A team of researchers looked to determine if certain types of hearing loss were more likely linked to memory loss. Their results were published in 2018.

The researchers reviewed data from 1,604 participants with an average age of 75. A total of 26% had peripheral hearing loss, a condition caused by a problem with the function of the inner ear and auditory nerve, and 12% had central hearing loss, which occurs when there is an issue with the brain’s ability to process sound. Thirty-three percent of the participants were diagnosed with a mild cognitive impairment, which includes memory loss.

The study determined that those with central hearing were twice as likely to have mild cognitive impairment compared to those with no hearing loss. According to study author Rodolfo Sardone, Au.D., “These preliminary results suggest that central hearing loss may share the same progressive loss of functioning in brain cells that occurs in cognitive decline, rather than the sensory deprivation that happens with peripheral hearing loss.”

To learn more about the relationship between hearing loss and memory or to schedule an appointment with a hearing professional, contact Nevada Ear + Sinus Institute today.