Why You Shouldn’t Wait to Treat Your Hearing Loss
We all put things off, regularly talking ourselves out of complex or uncomfortable chores in favor of something more enjoyable or fun. Distractions are all around as we tell ourselves that we will eventually get around to whatever we’re presently working hard to avoid.
Usually, procrastination is fairly harmless. We might desire to clear out the basement, for instance, by tossing or donating the things we seldom use. A clean basement sounds good, but the work of actually lugging things to the donation center is not so pleasurable. In the consideration of short-term pleasure, it’s very 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 dangerous. While no one’s idea of a good time is having a hearing test, recent research suggests that neglected hearing loss has major physical, mental, and social consequences.
To understand why, you need to start with the effects 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 mass and strength from inactivity, because if you don’t frequently use your muscles, they get weaker.
The same occurs with your brain. If you under-utilize the region of your brain that processes sounds, your capacity to process auditory information grows weaker. Researchers even have a name 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 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 happens with your brain; the longer you go with hearing loss, the a smaller amount of sound stimulation your brain gets, and the worse your hearing gets.
That, in essence, is auditory deprivation, which brings about a variety of other health issues current research is continuing to uncover. For example, a study directed by Johns Hopkins University found that those with hearing loss suffer from a 40% decrease in cognitive function in comparison to those with regular hearing, together with an increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s Disease and dementia.
Generalized cognitive decline also can cause serious mental and social effects. A leading study by The National Council on the Aging (NCOA) observed 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 begins as an inconvenience—not having the ability to hear people clearly—brings about a downward spiral that impacts 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, damaged relationships, and an enhanced 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 example one last time. Just after the cast comes off, you start working out 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 enhance 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, 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 experience the same improvement?