You probably already know that smoking is bad for you and so are things like living a sedentary lifestyle. But what most people probably don’t realize is that there is some compelling research that indicates a connection between early death and neglected hearing loss.
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 accounting for these differences, individuals with untreated hearing loss appear to die earlier.
Research Linking Premature Death to Hearing Loss
Norwegian scientists looked at the health data from more than 50,000 individuals 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 linked to untreated hearing loss.
The risk of cardiovascular death is greater for those who have hearing loss especially if they live by themselves and there is a 21% higher morbidity for people with even mild hearing loss, according to other studies.
Clarifying The Connection
Any time scientists find a connection, they never assume that one is necessarily producing the other. Identifying what exactly the connection is will normally be the first thing they will try to do. How are the two really linked?
In this same study it was reported that there was a greater risk in women with no kids and women and men who are divorced. This seemingly unrelated element suggests that the decrease in life expectancy might be connected to social ties.
This presumption is backed by earlier studies. One study published in the Journal of Epidemiology analyzed the data from over half a million participants. It found that social solitude increases the danger of early death significantly.
How Does Social Stability Contribute to Longevity?
Not unlike a pack of wolves or a herd of elephants in nature, social relationships offer a number of life-extending advantages to humans:
- Improved diet and health… Socially connected people often have better access to healthy food and can make it to doctor’s appointments.
- Mental stimulation… You’re sharing, joking and conversing with people.
- Motivation… Getting up in the morning, doing new things, and looking forward to their day can be strongly motivated by having people around.
- Safety… If you need medical help, you will be more likely to get it quickly if there are more people around.
- Physical stimulation… You’re more likely to go out and do things if you have people around.
- Support… Someone who doesn’t have a robust social network is more likely to try to do something risky instead of seeking help.
Why does untreated hearing loss stop social participation?
How Hearing Loss Contributes to Social Separation And Decreased Longevity
You most likely have a very close relationship with your loved ones. It’s difficult to imagine how hearing loss might change that.
Have you ever been in a room full of people you don’t know enjoying each other’s company, but ignoring you? You probably felt very lonely. 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 harder to share a casual conversation with you.
From your perspective, you often feel out of the loop because you lose parts of the conversation. Physical and emotional withdrawal, even at family gatherings, can be the result. 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. Additionally, many individuals suffering from advancing hearing loss have:
- Mental exhaustion
Social interactions become even more stressful because of these.
However, in their research, the Norwegian scientists offer a positive side. They reached a very important conclusion after evaluating their research. Investing in hearing aids can clear away the connection between premature death and hearing loss.
Using hearing aids helps you remain active, social, and healthier for a longer period.
This fact can be reinforced by similar studies. The American Academy of Audiology carried out one such study. They found that when individuals with hearing loss use hearing aids regularly, they have:
- Enhanced social life outside the home
- Better relationships with family
- Greater independence
Premature Death Linked to Untreated Hearing Loss
The connection between hearing loss and premature death is a complex one. But when we integrate the abundance of data, an entire picture appears. It reveals how hearing loss impacts finances, health, relationships, and more. So the premature death link isn’t hard to understand.
It’s also obvious that getting your hearing loss treated can counter the impact of hearing loss on each aspect of life. You will live a longer, healthier and socially active life.