You likely already know that smoking isn’t good for you and neither are things like leading a sedentary lifestyle. But did you realize there’s intriguing research revealing a connection between untreated hearing loss and premature death?
Of course, life expectancy varies widely. Access to healthcare, where you live, gender, type of work, and access to healthy food can all be factors in this variance. But even taking these differences into consideration, people with neglected hearing loss seem to die earlier.
Research Linking Premature Death to Hearing Loss
Norwegian scientists evaluated the health data from over 50,000 individuals over a two-year period. The cases of death for all the people were cross-referenced with the data. They could link an increased chance of premature death to hearing loss regardless of the cause of death.
The risk of cardiovascular death is increased for those who have hearing loss especially if they live by themselves and there is a 21% higher morbidity for individuals who suffer from even mild hearing loss, according to other studies.
Clarifying The Link
For researchers, just because they uncover a connection doesn’t mean that a causality is solidly demonstrated. Instead, they attempt to identify why the connection exists. What’s the common thread?
In this same study it was revealed that there was an increased risk in women with no kids and women and men who are divorced. This seemingly unrelated element indicates that the decrease in life expectancy may be connected to social ties.
This presumption is backed by earlier research. Data from more than half a million people was analyzed in a study published in the Journal of Epidemiology. It revealed that social solitude raises the risk of early death significantly.
How Does Social Stability Contribute to Longevity?
Having relationships socially with other people has many life-extending benefits much like a herd of elephants or a pack of wolves:
- Physical stimulation… You’re more likely to get up and do things if you have people around.
- Safety… When there are more people around, there’s a greater chance you’ll get medical attention right away if needed.
- Support… A person who doesn’t have a strong social network is more likely to attempt to do something hazardous instead of seeking help.
- Mental stimulation… You’re sharing, joking and conversing with people.
- Motivation… Having people around can motivate a person to get up in the morning, try new things and look forward to their day.
- Improved diet and health… Socially connected people usually have better access to healthy food and can make it to doctor’s appointments.
Why does untreated hearing loss stop social participation?
How Hearing Loss Contributes to Social Isolation And Decreased Longevity
You most likely have a very close relationship with your loved ones. It’s hard to imagine how hearing loss may change that.
Have you ever been in a room full of strangers enjoying the company of each other, but paying no attention to you? It was probably a lonely feeling. This is what neglected hearing loss can start to feel like. It’s not that people are ignoring you. Actually, as the hearing loss progresses, it becomes more difficult to have a casual conversation with you.
You frequently miss parts of the conversation and that makes you feel out of the loop. This can very easily cause you to withdraw physically and emotionally, even at family gatherings. Going out to a restaurant with friends and participating in a social club, event or hobby loses its enjoyment. Simply avoiding these kinds of scenarios becomes common. In addition, many people suffering from worsening hearing loss have:
- Mental exhaustion
These make social connections even more challenging.
However, in their research, the Norwegian researchers offer a silver lining. They reached a significant conclusion after evaluating their research. Purchasing hearing aids can eliminate the connection between premature death and hearing loss.
You will stay healthier, more active and social if you wear hearing aids and that can give you longevity.
This fact can be supported by similar research. The American Academy of Audiology carried out one such study. That study revealed that using hearing aids regularly had the following benefits:
- Improved social life outside the home
- More independence
- Stronger relationships with family
Neglected Hearing Loss Linked to Premature Death
The connection between hearing loss and early death is a complex one. But when we combine the wealth of data, a whole picture appears. It demonstrates how hearing loss impacts health, finances, relationships, and more. So it’s easy to recognize why the early demise link exists.
It’s also obvious that having your hearing loss treated can reverse the effects of hearing loss on each aspect of life. You can continue to live an active, social and healthy life well into those older years.