We all put things off, regularly talking ourselves out of complex or uncomfortable chores in favor of something more pleasurable 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.

Sometimes, procrastination is fairly harmless. We might desire to clean out the basement, for example, by throwing out or donating the items we never use. A clean basement sounds great, but the task of actually hauling items to the donation center is not so satisfying. In the consideration of short-term pleasure, it’s easy to find innumerable alternatives that would be more pleasant—so you put it off.

Other times, 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 having a hearing examination, the latest research shows that untreated hearing loss has significant physical, mental, and social consequences.

To understand why, you need to start 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 about what will happen just after you take the cast off. You’ve lost muscle volume and strength from inactivity, because if you don’t frequently use your muscles, they get weaker.

The same takes place with your brain. If you under-utilize the region of your brain that processes sounds, your ability to process auditory information gets weaker. Scientists 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 make use of the muscles, relying 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 less sound stimulation your brain gets, and the more impaired your hearing gets.

That, in essence, is auditory deprivation, which produces a host of other conditions the latest research is continuing to uncover. For example, a study carried out by Johns Hopkins University reported that those with hearing loss experience a 40% drop in cognitive function in comparison to those with regular hearing, along with an enhanced risk of developing Alzheimer’s Disease and dementia.

General cognitive decline also contributes to substantial mental and social consequences. A leading study by The National Council on the Aging (NCOA) detected 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 capability 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 produces general cognitive decline, which leads to psychological harm, including depression and anxiety, which ultimately leads to social isolation, strained relationships, and an increased 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 illustration one more time. Once the cast comes off, you begin working out and stimulating the muscles, and after some time, you recoup your muscle mass and strength.

The same process once again applies 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 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 virtually every aspect of their lives.

Are you ready to achieve the same improvement?