You probably already recognize that smoking is bad for you and so are things like living a sedentary lifestyle. But did you realize there is intriguing research indicating a connection between untreated hearing loss and premature death?
Individual life expectancy varies widely, of course. 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, people with neglected hearing loss seem to die earlier.
Research Connecting Premature Death to Hearing Loss
Over a two year period, stats from over 50,000 people was evaluated by Norwegian researchers. The cases of death for all the people were cross-referenced with the data. They could connect an increased risk of early death to hearing loss regardless of the cause of death.
Other studies show that even mild hearing loss is associated with a 21% greater morbidity rate and that there’s an increased risk of cardiovascular death for people with hearing loss, especially if they live by themselves.
Clarifying The Connection
For scientists, just because they uncover a connection doesn’t mean that a causality is solidly established. Rather, they attempt to identify why the connection exists. How are the two really linked?
The Norwegian study further revealed that women and men who were divorced and women who did not have children were also at higher risk. This seemingly unrelated element indicates that the decrease in life expectancy might be linked to social ties.
Earlier research supports this assumption. One study published in the Journal of Epidemiology examined the data from more than half a million individuals. It revealed that the risk of early death was considerably raised by social separation.
How Does Social Stability Increase Longevity?
Connecting socially with other people has numerous life-extending benefits much like a herd of elephants or a pack of wolves:
- Mental stimulation… You’re sharing, joking and conversing with others.
- Safety… If you need medical help, you will be more likely to get it quickly if there are more people around.
- Support… Someone who doesn’t have a robust social network is more likely to try to do something risky instead of asking for help.
- Improved diet and health… Socially connected people often have greater access to healthy food and can get to doctor’s appointments.
- Physical stimulation… If you have people around you, you’re more likely to engage in physical exercise.
- Motivation… Having people around can encourage a person to get up, try new things and look forward to their day.
What is it about neglected hearing loss that takes all of this away?
How Hearing Loss Can Leads to Social Separation And Decreased Longevity
You most likely have a very close relationship with your loved ones. It’s hard to imagine how hearing loss might change that.
Have you ever been with a group of people you don’t know, who were ignoring you while chatting with each other? You probably felt very lonely. You can start to feel like this with untreated hearing loss. It’s not that people are ignoring you. Actually, as the hearing loss develops, it gets harder to have a casual conversation with you.
On your side of things, you often feel out of the loop because you miss parts of the conversation. Physical and emotional withdrawal, even at family events, can be the outcome. Going out with friends to a restaurant and attending a social club, event or hobby loses its appeal. Simply avoiding these types of scenarios becomes common. Here are some other challenges that individuals who have progressing hearing loss deal with.:
- Mental exhaustion
These make social connections even more difficult.
The Norwegian researchers offer a silver lining in their research, however. They reached a significant conclusion after analyzing their research. Purchasing 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 time.
This fact can be supported by similar studies. The American Academy of Audiology conducted one such study. They revealed that when individuals with hearing loss use hearing aids regularly, they have:
- Enhanced social life outside the home
- Greater independence
- Stronger relationships with family
Untreated Hearing Loss Linked to Premature Death
Early death and hearing loss have a complex association. But an overall picture emerges when all of the data is taken into account. The effect of hearing loss on relationships, health, and finances is revealed. So it’s easy to recognize why the premature demise link exists.
These studies also make it obvious that managing hearing loss can reverse its adverse effects. You can continue to live an active, social and healthy life well into those advanced years.