We all put things off, routinely talking ourselves out of strenuous or uncomfortable tasks 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 items we never use. A clean basement sounds good, but the activity of actually hauling things to the donation center is not so pleasurable. In the interest of short-term pleasure, it’s very easy to notice countless alternatives that would be more pleasant—so you put it off.
Other times, procrastination is not so innocent, 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, the latest 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 popular analogy: if any of you have ever broken a bone, let’s say your leg, you are aware of what will happen just after you take the cast off. You’ve lost muscle mass and strength from inactivity, because if you don’t repeatedly make use of your muscles, they get weaker.
The same thing happens with your brain. If you under-utilize the region of your brain that processes sound, your capability to process auditory information becomes weaker. Scientists even have a term for this: they refer to it as “auditory deprivation.”
Back to the broken leg example. Let’s say you took the cast off 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 steadily weaker. The same happens with your brain; the longer you ignore your hearing loss, the a smaller amount of sound stimulation your brain gets, and the more impaired your hearing gets.
That, in essence, is auditory deprivation, which results in a variety of additional consequences current research is continuing to unearth. For example, a study carried out by Johns Hopkins University discovered that those with hearing loss experience a 40% decrease in cognitive function compared to those with normal hearing, together with an enhanced risk of developing Alzheimer’s Disease and dementia.
Generalized cognitive decline also can cause 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 take part in social activities, compared to those who wear hearing aids.
So what starts out as an annoyance—not having the ability to hear people clearly—leads to 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 creates psychological harm, including depression and anxiety, which ultimately leads to social isolation, wounded relationships, and an elevated risk of developing serious 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 last time. Immediately after the cast comes off, you start working out and stimulating the muscles, and over time, you recover your muscle mass and strength.
The same process once again is applicable to hearing. If you increase 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 almost every area of their lives.
Are you ready to accomplish the same improvement?