We all procrastinate, regularly talking ourselves out of challenging or uncomfortable chores in favor of something more pleasing or fun. Distractions are all around as we tell ourselves that we will some day get around to whatever we’re presently working hard to avoid.
Often times, procrastination is fairly harmless. We might aim to clear out the basement, for example, by tossing or donating the things we rarely use. A clean basement sounds great, but the process of actually hauling items to the donation center is not so pleasurable. In the consideration of short-term pleasure, it’s very easy to notice countless alternatives that would be more enjoyable—so you put it off.
Other times, procrastination is not so innocent, and when it pertains to hearing loss, it could be downright hazardous. While no one’s idea of a good time is having a hearing test, recent research reveals that untreated hearing loss has serious physical, mental, and social consequences.
To understand why, you have to start with the impact of hearing loss on the brain itself. Here’s a familiar analogy: if any of you have ever broken a bone, let’s say your leg, you understand what will happen after you take the cast off. You’ve lost muscle mass and strength from inactivity, because if you don’t repeatedly utilize your muscles, they get weaker.
The same takes place with your brain. If you under-utilize the region of your brain that processes sounds, your capacity to process auditory information becomes weaker. Researchers even have a label for this: they call it “auditory deprivation.”
Returning to the broken leg example. Let’s say you took the cast off your leg but persisted to not make use of the muscles, relying on crutches to get around the same as before. What would happen? Your leg muscles would get progressively weaker. The same happens with your brain; the longer you go with hearing loss, the less sound stimulation your brain gets, and the more impaired your hearing gets.
That, in essence, is auditory deprivation, which results in a host of different health issues recent research is continuing to reveal. For example, a study directed by Johns Hopkins University found that those with hearing loss encounter a 40% decline in cognitive function in comparison to those with regular hearing, along with an elevated risk of developing Alzheimer’s Disease and dementia.
Overall cognitive decline also causes substantial mental and social consequences. A leading study by The National Council on the Aging (NCOA) revealed that those with neglected hearing loss were much more likely to report depression, anxiety, and paranoia, and were less likely to join in social activities, compared to those who wear hearing aids.
So what starts out as an inconvenience—not having the capability hear people clearly—brings about a downward spiral that disturbs all aspects of your health. The chain of events is clear: Hearing loss brings about auditory deprivation, which produces general cognitive decline, which leads to psychological harm, including depression and anxiety, which ultimately leads to social isolation, damaged relationships, and an elevated risk of developing major medical issues.
The Benefits of Hearing Aids
So that was the bad news. The good news is equally encouraging. Let’s visit the broken leg example one last time. Just after the cast comes off, you start exercising and stimulating the muscles, and over time, you regain your muscle mass and strength.
The same process once again applies to hearing. If you boost the stimulation of sound to your brain with hearing aids, you can regain your brain’s ability to process and comprehend sound. This leads to better communication, improved psychological health, and ultimately to better relationships. And, in fact, as reported by The National Council on the Aging, hearing aid users report improvements in nearly every area of their lives.
Are you ready to experience the same improvement?