We all procrastinate, routinely talking ourselves out of difficult or uncomfortable tasks in favor of something more pleasing or fun. Distractions abound as we tell ourselves that we will sooner or later 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 example, by tossing or donating the things we seldom use. A clean basement sounds great, but the activity of actually hauling things to the donation center is not so pleasurable. In the consideration 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 innocuous, 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 examination, current research reveals that untreated 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 recognizable analogy: if any of you have ever broken a bone, let’s say your leg, you know what occurs after you take the cast off. You’ve lost muscle size and strength from inactivity, because if you don’t frequently make use of your muscles, they get weaker.

The same occurs with your brain. If you under-utilize the part of your brain that processes sounds, your capability to process auditory information gets weaker. Researchers even have a label 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 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 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 triggers a host of different conditions the newest research is continuing to identify. For example, a study directed by Johns Hopkins University revealed that those with hearing loss suffer from a 40% drop in cognitive function in comparison to those with regular hearing, along with an elevated risk of developing Alzheimer’s Disease and dementia.

General cognitive decline also produces significant mental and social consequences. A leading study by The National Council on the Aging (NCOA) found that those with neglected hearing loss were much more likely to report depression, anxiety, and paranoia, and were less likely to join in social activities, compared to those who wear hearing aids.

So what begins as an inconvenience—not being able to hear people clearly—brings about a downward spiral that disturbs all aspects of your health. The chain of events is clear: Hearing loss brings about 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 elevated risk of developing major medical ailments.

The Benefits of Hearing Aids

So that was the bad news. The good news is just as encouraging. Let’s visit the broken leg illustration one more time. Just after 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 increase the stimulation of sound to your brain with hearing aids, you can recuperate 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, as reported by The National Council on the Aging, hearing aid users report improvements in virtually every area of their lives.

Are you ready to achieve the same improvement?