Most people understand that leading a sedentary lifestyle and smoking isn’t good for them. But did you realize there is fascinating research revealing a connection between untreated hearing loss and premature death?
Individual life expectancy varies widely, of course. Access to healthcare, where you live, type of work, gender, and access to healthy food can all be factors in this variance. But people who suffer from untreated hearing loss seem to die earlier even when you take these differences into account.
Research Linking Early Death to Hearing Loss
Norwegian researchers looked at the health data from more than 50,000 people over a two-year period. The cases of death for all the people were cross-referenced with the data. Whatever the cause, premature death could be connected to neglected hearing loss.
Other studies show that even mild hearing loss is associated with a 21% higher morbidity rate and that there’s an increased danger of cardiovascular death for those with hearing loss, particularly if they live alone.
Clarifying The Connection
For researchers, just because they uncover a connection doesn’t mean that a causality is solidly demonstrated. Rather, they try to determine why the connection occurs. What’s the common thread?
In this same research it was reported that there was an increased risk in women with no children and women and men who are divorced. This indicates that social life has an effect on longevity.
This assumption is backed by previous studies. Data from over half a million individuals was analyzed in a study published in the Journal of Epidemiology. It reported that the risk of early death was substantially raised by social isolation.
How Does Social Stability Contribute to Longevity?
Much like a pack of wolves or a herd of elephants in nature, social connections offer numerous life-extending advantages to humans:
- Physical stimulation… If you have people around you, you’re more likely to get physical exercise.
- Support… A person who doesn’t have a strong social network is more likely to try to do something risky instead of asking for help.
- Improved diet and health… Making it to doctor’s appointments is easier and healthy food is more immediately available for individuals who are active socially.
- Mental stimulation… You’re engaging with others in conversation, jokes, sharing, and more.
- Motivation… Having people around can motivate a person to get up, try new things and look forward to their day.
- Safety… When there are more people around, there’s a greater chance you’ll receive medical attention immediately if you need it.
What is it about neglected hearing loss that takes all of this away?
How Hearing Loss Contributes to Social Isolation And Decreased Longevity
You most likely have family who will always be there for you. How could that be changed by hearing loss?
Have you ever been in a room full of people you don’t know 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. It seems like you’re being ignored because people are beginning to have a difficult time having a conversation with you.
On your side of things, you often feel out of the loop because you lose parts of the conversation. This can very easily make you withdraw emotionally and physically, even at family gatherings. The appeal of going to a club or restaurant with friends starts to fade away. Simply avoiding these types of scenarios becomes common. Here are some other concerns that people who have progressing hearing loss deal with.:
- Mental exhaustion
Social connections become even more challenging because of these.
The Norwegian researchers offer a positive side in their research, however. After examining their research, they came to a significant conclusion. The connection between early death and hearing loss can be disrupted by wearing hearing aids.
Wearing hearing aids helps you remain active, social, and healthier for a longer time.
Similar studies back these facts. One such study was conducted by the American Academy of Audiology. That study revealed that using hearing aids regularly had the following benefits:
- Better relationships with family
- Improved social life outside the home
- More independence
Neglected Hearing Loss Connected to Early Death
The connection between hearing loss and early death is a complex one. But an entire picture emerges when all of the data is taken into account. It reveals how hearing loss impacts finances, health, relationships, and more. So the early death link isn’t difficult to understand.
These studies also make it clear that managing hearing loss can reverse its negative effects. You can continue to live an active, social and healthy life well into those older years.