We all put things off, regularly talking ourselves out of complex or uncomfortable chores in favor of something more enjoyable or fun. Distractions abound as we tell ourselves that we will sooner or later get around to whatever we’re currently working to avoid.
Often times, procrastination is fairly harmless. We might want to clean out the basement, for example, by throwing out or donating the things we never use. A clean basement sounds great, but the activity of actually hauling things to the donation center is not so pleasurable. In the concern of short-term pleasure, it’s easy to notice myriad alternatives that would be more pleasant—so you put it off.
In other cases, procrastination is not so benign, and when it comes to hearing loss, it could be downright harmful. While no one’s idea of a good time is getting a hearing examination, recent research shows that untreated hearing loss has major physical, mental, and social consequences.
To understand why, you have to start with the effects of hearing loss on the brain itself. Here’s a recognizable comparison: if any of you have ever broken a bone, let’s say your leg, you know what happens after you take the cast off. You’ve lost muscle volume and strength from inactivity, because if you don’t regularly make use of your muscles, they get weaker.
The same thing occurs with your brain. If you under-utilize the region of your brain that processes sound, your ability to process auditory information gets weaker. Researchers even have a label for this: they refer to it as “auditory deprivation.”
Returning to the broken leg example. Let’s say you removed the cast from your leg but continued 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 increasingly weaker. The same happens with your brain; the longer you go with hearing loss, the less sound stimulation your brain gets, and the worse your hearing gets.
That, in essence, is auditory deprivation, which produces a host of different problems the latest research is continuing to reveal. For example, a study carried out by Johns Hopkins University demonstrated that those with hearing loss suffer from a 40% decrease in cognitive function in comparison to those with regular hearing, along with an elevated risk of developing Alzheimer’s Disease and dementia.
Generalized cognitive decline also leads to severe mental and social effects. A major study by The National Council on the Aging (NCOA) established that those with neglected hearing loss were more likely to report depression, anxiety, and paranoia, and were less likely to participate 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 impacts all aspects of your health. The chain of events is clear: Hearing loss brings about auditory deprivation, which produces general cognitive decline, which creates psychological harm, including depression and anxiety, which ultimately leads to social isolation, damaged relationships, and an enhanced risk of developing major medical issues.
The Benefits of Hearing Aids
So that was the bad news. The good news is just as encouraging. Let’s visit the broken leg illustration one more time. Just after the cast comes off, you begin working out and stimulating the muscles, and over time, you recoup your muscle mass and strength.
The same process once again is applicable to hearing. If you boost the stimulation of sound to your brain with hearing aids, you can recuperate 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 achieve the same improvement?