Most people understand that living a sedentary lifestyle and smoking is bad for them. But did you realize there’s fascinating research indicating a connection between untreated hearing loss and early 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 people who suffer from neglected hearing loss appear to die earlier even when you take these differences into account.
Studies Linking Premature Death to Hearing Loss
Norwegian scientists 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. They were able to link an increased risk of premature death to hearing loss irrespective of the cause of death.
The risk of cardiovascular death is greater for those with hearing loss especially if they live by themselves and there is a 21% higher morbidity for people who suffer from even mild hearing loss, according to other studies.
Clarifying The Link
Any time scientists find a connection, they never presume that one is necessarily causing the other. Identifying what precisely the connection is will usually be the first thing they will attempt to do. How are the two really related?
The Norwegian study also showed that men and women who were divorced and women with no kids were also at higher risk. This suggests that social life has an effect on longevity.
Earlier studies support this presumption. One study published in the Journal of Epidemiology evaluated the data from over half a million participants. It reported that the risk of early death was significantly raised by social separation.
How Does Social Stability Contribute to Longevity?
Connecting socially with other people has numerous life-extending advantages much like a herd of elephants or a pack of wolves:
- Physical stimulation… If you have people around you, you’re more likely to engage in physical exercise.
- Mental stimulation… You’re sharing, joking and conversing with others.
- Improved diet and health… Socially connected people usually have greater access to healthy food and can get to doctor’s appointments.
- Support… A person who doesn’t have a robust social network is more likely to attempt to do something hazardous instead of seeking help.
- 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 needed.
Why does untreated hearing loss decrease social participation?
How Hearing Loss Contributes to Social Isolation And Decreased Longevity
You probably have family who will always be there for you. It’s hard to imagine how hearing loss may change that.
Have you ever been in a room full of strangers enjoying each other’s company, but ignoring you? It was most likely a lonely feeling. This is what untreated hearing loss can begin to feel like. It’s not that people are ignoring you. The truth is, as the hearing loss develops, it becomes harder to share a casual conversation with you.
You often lose parts of the conversation and that makes you feel out of the loop. This can quickly cause you to withdraw physically and emotionally, even at family events. Going out with friends to a restaurant and attending a social club, event or hobby loses its enjoyment. Simply avoiding these types of situations becomes common. Here are some other concerns that people who have progressing hearing loss deal with.:
- Mental exhaustion
These make social connections even more difficult.
However, in their research, the Norwegian researchers offer a positive side. They reached a significant conclusion after analyzing their research. The link between premature death and hearing loss can be disrupted by wearing hearing aids.
Using hearing aids helps you stay active, social, and healthier for a longer time.
Similar studies back these facts. The American Academy of Audiology carried out one such study. They found that when people with hearing loss use hearing aids consistently, they have:
- Enhanced social life outside the home
- Stronger relationships with family
- Greater independence
Untreated Hearing Loss Linked to Premature Death
Premature death and hearing loss have a complicated connection. But an entire picture appears when all of the data is taken into account. It shows how hearing loss affects finances, health, relationships, and more. So the early death link isn’t hard to comprehend.
It’s also clear that getting your hearing loss treated can reverse the effects of hearing loss on each part of life. You can keep living an active, social and healthy life well into those older years.