Hearing loss and memory problems: Is there a relationship?

By Dr. Anne Simon

June 11, 2018

A study conducted by Johns Hopkins University and the National Institute on Aging found a strong relationship between hearing loss and memory problems.

To understand how hearing loss and memory problems might be related, I’ll offer two observations. First, it is the brain that hears. The ears convert auditory signals into the electrical impulses that the brain can interpret. But, it is the brain that is responsible for hearing.

Second, the brain behaves very much like a muscle. Muscles can grow stronger or weaker, develop speed or strength, and also have limits as to how much burden they can bear.

Consider all that we ask of our brains; memorize information, make decisions, regulate emotions, manage all of our body’s vital circulatory, respiratory, and digestive functions. In the presence of hearing loss, your brain has to devote more energy to processing sound. It can draw this energy from your less vital functions: memory, decision-making, emotional well-being.

So, yes, hearing problems and memory problems are related. Patients come to me to treat their hearing loss. Yet, routinely, they also find improvement in their daily life in areas they did not expect: better recall, clearer thinking, emotional health. All of these lead to more satisfying relationships.

Hearing loss is a serious, significant health issue. It can affect your memory, and cognitive and emotional well-being. When you, or a loved one, are ready to consider hearing treatment, call my office at 208-746-7022.

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