We all put things off, routinely 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 trying to avoid.
Often times, procrastination is relatively harmless. We might desire to clean out the basement, for example, by throwing out or donating the things we seldom use. A clean basement sounds great, but the work of actually hauling items to the donation center is not so pleasant. In the concern of short-term pleasure, it’s very easy to find myriad alternatives that would be more pleasant—so you put it off.
In other cases, 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 getting a hearing test, the latest research reveals that neglected hearing loss has major 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 familiar 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 volume and strength from inactivity, because if you don’t routinely make use of your muscles, they get weaker.
The same happens with your brain. If you under-utilize the part of your brain that processes sounds, your capability to process auditory information grows weaker. Researchers even have a term 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 use the muscles, depending on crutches to get around the same as before. What would happen? Your leg muscles would get progressively weaker. The same occurs with your brain; the longer you ignore your 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 variety of other problems the latest research is continuing to expose. For instance, a study conducted by Johns Hopkins University found that those with hearing loss experience a 40% decrease in cognitive function when 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 severe mental and social consequences. A major study by The National Council on the Aging (NCOA) established that those with neglected hearing loss were much more likely to report depression, anxiety, and paranoia, and were less likely to get involved in social activities, in comparison to those who wear hearing aids.
So what starts out as an inconvenience—not having the ability to hear people clearly—brings about a downward spiral that affects all aspects of your health. The sequence of events is clear: Hearing loss leads to auditory deprivation, which leads to general cognitive decline, which leads to psychological harm, including depression and anxiety, which in the end leads to social isolation, strained relationships, and an increased risk of developing serious medical ailments.
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. The moment the cast comes off, you begin exercising and stimulating the muscles, and after some time, you regain 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 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, according to The National Council on the Aging, hearing aid users report improvements in nearly every aspect of their lives.
Are you ready to accomplish the same improvement?