We all procrastinate, regularly talking ourselves out of challenging or uncomfortable activities in favor of something more pleasurable or fun. Distractions abound as we tell ourselves that we will eventually get around to whatever we’re currently working to avoid.
Sometimes, procrastination is fairly harmless. We might desire to clean out the basement, for example, by tossing or donating the things we seldom use. A clean basement sounds good, but the activity of actually lugging things to the donation center is not so satisfying. In the concern of short-term pleasure, it’s very 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 pertains to hearing loss, it could be downright hazardous. While no one’s idea of a good time is getting a hearing exam, current research suggests that neglected hearing loss has significant physical, mental, and social consequences.
To understand why, you have to begin with the impact of hearing loss on the brain itself. Here’s a popular comparison: if any of you have ever broken a bone, let’s say your leg, you know about what will happen just after you take the cast off. You’ve lost muscle volume 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 sound, your capacity to process auditory information grows weaker. Researchers even have a term for this: they refer to it as “auditory deprivation.”
Returning to the broken leg example. Let’s say you took the cast off your leg but continued to not use the muscles, depending 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 ignore your hearing loss, the less sound stimulation your brain gets, and the worse your hearing gets.
That, in essence, is auditory deprivation, which can cause a variety of additional ailments the newest research is continuing to uncover. For example, a study carried out by Johns Hopkins University showed that those with hearing loss encounter a 40% decrease in cognitive function compared to those with regular hearing, in addition to an enhanced risk of developing Alzheimer’s Disease and dementia.
General cognitive decline also brings about major mental and social effects. A major study by The National Council on the Aging (NCOA) revealed that those with untreated hearing loss were much more likely to report depression, anxiety, and paranoia, and were less likely to partake in social activities, compared to those who wear hearing aids.
So what starts out as an annoyance—not having the capability hear people clearly—brings about a downward spiral that affects all aspects of your health. The sequence of events is clear: Hearing loss brings about auditory deprivation, which produces general cognitive decline, which creates psychological harm, including depression and anxiety, which in the end leads to social isolation, strained 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 equally encouraging. Let’s visit the broken leg example one more time. Immediately after the cast comes off, you begin working out and stimulating the muscles, and after some time, you recoup 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 understand sound. This leads to better communication, better psychological health, and ultimately to better relationships. And, in fact, according to The National Council on the Aging, hearing aid users report improvements in nearly every aspect of their lives.
Are you ready to experience the same improvement?