Why You Shouldn’t Wait to Treat Your Hearing Loss

Contra Costa Hearing Blog

We all procrastinate, regularly talking ourselves out of strenuous or unpleasant activities in favor of something more enjoyable or fun. Distractions are all around as we tell ourselves that we will sooner or later get around to whatever we’re presently trying to avoid.

Usually, procrastination is relatively harmless. We might want to clear out the basement, for instance, by throwing out or donating the things we never use. A clean basement sounds great, but the process of actually hauling items to the donation center is not so satisfying. In the concern of short-term pleasure, it’s easy to notice countless alternatives that would be more pleasant—so you put it off.

Other times, procrastination is not so benign, 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, current research reveals that untreated hearing loss has severe 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 are aware of what will happen just after you take the cast off. You’ve lost muscle mass and strength from inactivity, because if you don’t routinely make use of 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 capacity to process auditory information gets weaker. Researchers even have a label 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 persisted 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 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 creates a variety of additional ailments recent research is continuing to uncover. For instance, a study directed by Johns Hopkins University revealed that those with hearing loss suffer from a 40% drop in cognitive function compared to those with normal hearing, in conjunction with an elevated risk of developing Alzheimer’s Disease and dementia.

General cognitive decline also causes severe mental and social consequences. A leading study by The National Council on the Aging (NCOA) discovered 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, compared to those who wear hearing aids.

So what begins as an inconvenience—not having the ability to hear people clearly—leads to a downward spiral that affects all aspects of your health. The sequence of events is clear: Hearing loss leads to auditory deprivation, which produces general cognitive decline, which creates psychological harm, including depression and anxiety, which in the end leads to social isolation, wounded relationships, and an elevated 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 illustration one more time. Immediately after the cast comes off, you begin exercising and stimulating the muscles, and over time, you recover 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 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 almost every area of their lives.

Are you ready to experience the same improvement?

The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. Schedule an appointment to see if hearing aids could benefit you.