We all procrastinate, routinely talking ourselves out of challenging or unpleasant tasks in favor of something more pleasant or fun. Distractions abound as we tell ourselves that we will some day 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 tossing or donating the things we rarely use. A clean basement sounds good, but the work of actually lugging things to the donation center is not so satisfying. In the consideration of short-term pleasure, it’s easy to notice countless alternatives that would be more pleasant—so you put it off.

In other cases, procrastination is not so harmless, and when it pertains to hearing loss, it could be downright harmful. While no one’s idea of a good time is getting a hearing exam, current research reveals that neglected hearing loss has major 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 popular analogy: 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 frequently utilize your muscles, they get weaker.

The same thing occurs with your brain. If you under-utilize the region of your brain that processes sounds, your capability to process auditory information gets weaker. Scientists even have a label for this: they call it “auditory deprivation.”

Back to the broken leg example. Let’s say you removed the cast from your leg but continued to not use 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 less sound stimulation your brain gets, and the more impaired your hearing gets.

That, in essence, is auditory deprivation, which triggers a host of different complications present research is continuing to expose. For instance, a study conducted by Johns Hopkins University revealed that those with hearing loss suffer from a 40% decline in cognitive function in comparison to those with normal hearing, as well as an enhanced risk of developing Alzheimer’s Disease and dementia.

General cognitive decline also can cause serious mental and social consequences. A major study by The National Council on the Aging (NCOA) revealed that those with untreated hearing loss were more likely to report depression, anxiety, and paranoia, and were less likely to get involved 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—brings about a downward spiral that disturbs all aspects of your health. The sequence of events is clear: Hearing loss leads to auditory deprivation, which produces general cognitive decline, which leads to psychological harm, including depression and anxiety, which in the end leads to social isolation, wounded relationships, and an enhanced risk of developing major 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. As soon as the cast comes off, you begin working out and stimulating the muscles, and after some time, you recover your muscle mass and strength.

The same process once again is applicable to hearing. If you heighten the stimulation of sound to your brain with hearing aids, you can restore 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 experience the same improvement?

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