You likely already recognize that smoking isn’t good for you and neither are things like living a sedentary lifestyle. But did you know 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, type of work, gender, and access to healthy food can all be factors in this variance. But even accounting for these differences, individuals with untreated hearing loss seem to die earlier.
Research Linking Premature Death to Hearing Loss
Norwegian researchers looked at the health data from more than 50,000 individuals over a two-year period. The cases of death for all the individuals were cross-referenced with the data. They were able to connect a greater risk of early death to hearing loss irrespective of the cause of death.
The chance of cardiovascular death is greater for people with hearing loss especially if they live alone and there is a 21% higher morbidity for people with even moderate hearing loss, according to other studies.
Clarifying The Link
For researchers, just because they uncover a link doesn’t mean that a causality is solidly demonstrated. Identifying what precisely the link is will normally be the first thing they will attempt to do. What’s the common connection?
In this same research it was revealed that there was a greater risk in women with no children and women and men who are divorced. This suggests that social life has an effect on longevity.
This assumption is supported by previous studies. Data from over half a million people was examined in a study published in the Journal of Epidemiology. It reported that the risk of early death was significantly raised by social isolation.
How is Longevity Increased by Social Stability?
Having relationships socially with others has numerous life-extending benefits 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.
- Safety… When there are more people around, there’s a greater chance you’ll get medical attention immediately if needed.
- Motivation… Having people around can motivate a person to get up in the morning, do new things and look forward to their day.
- 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 usually have better access to healthy food and can make it to doctor’s appointments.
- Mental stimulation… You’re sharing, joking and conversing with people.
What is it about neglected hearing loss that causes all of this?
How Hearing Loss Plays A Role in Social Isolation And Decreased Longevity
You most likely have a very close relationship with your loved ones. It’s difficult to envision how hearing loss might change that.
Have you ever been with a group of strangers, who were ignoring you while talking to each other? It was most likely a lonely feeling. You can begin to feel like this with untreated hearing loss. People aren’t necessarily ignoring you. Actually, as the hearing loss develops, it gets more difficult to share a casual conversation with you.
From your perspective, you frequently feel out of the loop because you lose parts of the conversation. This can quickly make you withdraw emotionally and physically, even at family get-togethers. The appeal of going to a restaurant or club with friends begins to fade away. Simply avoiding these types of situations becomes common. Additionally, many individuals suffering from worsening hearing loss have:
- Mental exhaustion
These make social contact even more challenging.
The Norwegian researchers offer a positive side in their research, however. After reviewing their research, they came to an important conclusion. The link between premature 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.
This fact can be backed by similar research. One such study was conducted by the American Academy of Audiology. That study revealed that using hearing aids regularly had the following benefits:
- More independence
- Stronger relationships with family
- Enhanced social life outside the home
Premature Death Linked to Neglected Hearing Loss
The connection between hearing loss and early death is a complicated one. But when we integrate the abundance of data, a whole picture appears. The impact of hearing loss on relationships, health, and finances is unveiled. So the early death link isn’t hard to understand.
These studies also make it obvious that managing hearing loss can counter its detrimental effects. You will live a longer, socially active and healthier life.