We all procrastinate, routinely talking ourselves out of strenuous or uncomfortable tasks in favor of something more pleasurable or fun. Distractions are all around as we tell ourselves that we will eventually get around to whatever we’re currently working hard to avoid.
Sometimes, procrastination is fairly harmless. We might desire to clear out the basement, for instance, by tossing or donating the items we rarely use. A clean basement sounds good, but the work of actually hauling things to the donation center is not so pleasant. In the concern of short-term pleasure, it’s easy to notice innumerable alternatives that would be more enjoyable—so you put it off.
In other cases, procrastination is not so innocuous, and when it comes to hearing loss, it could be downright dangerous. While no one’s idea of a good time is having a hearing examination, the latest research suggests that neglected hearing loss has serious physical, mental, and social consequences.
To understand why, you need to begin with the impact of hearing loss on the brain itself. Here’s a well-known comparison: if any of you have ever broken a bone, let’s say your leg, you know what happens just 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 thing takes place with your brain. If you under-utilize the region of your brain that processes sound, your capacity to process auditory information grows weaker. Researchers even have a name for this: they call it “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, depending on crutches to get around the same as before. What would happen? Your leg muscles would get steadily weaker. The same occurs 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 variety of other health problems present-day research is continuing to reveal. For example, a study carried out by Johns Hopkins University revealed that those with hearing loss suffer from a 40% decrease in cognitive function compared to those with regular hearing, in combination with an enhanced risk of developing Alzheimer’s Disease and dementia.
Overall cognitive decline also brings about significant mental and social effects. A leading study by The National Council on the Aging (NCOA) found that those with neglected hearing loss were more likely to report depression, anxiety, and paranoia, and were less likely to join in social activities, in comparison to those who wear hearing aids.
So what starts out as an annoyance—not being able to hear people clearly—leads to a downward spiral that affects all aspects of your health. The chain of events is clear: Hearing loss brings about auditory deprivation, which leads to 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 conditions.
The Benefits of Hearing Aids
So that was the bad news. The good news is just as encouraging. Let’s visit the broken leg example one more time. Immediately after the cast comes off, you begin exercising and stimulating the muscles, and over time, you recoup your muscle mass and strength.
The same process once again applies to hearing. If you enhance the stimulation of sound to your brain with hearing aids, you can recover your brain’s ability to process and understand sound. This leads to better communication, improved psychological health, and ultimately to better relationships. And, in fact, according to The National Council on the Aging, hearing aid users report improvements in virtually every area of their lives.
Are you ready to experience the same improvement?