Most people recognize that living a sedentary lifestyle and smoking isn’t good for them. But did you realize there’s fascinating research revealing a link between neglected hearing loss and premature death?
Of course, life expectancy varies widely. 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 appear to die earlier even when you take these differences into consideration.
Studies Connecting Premature Death to Hearing Loss
Norwegian researchers looked at the health data from over 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 connected to neglected hearing loss.
Other studies show that even moderate hearing loss is linked to a 21% greater morbidity rate and that there’s an increased danger of cardiovascular death for those who have hearing loss, especially if they live alone.
Clarifying The Link
For researchers, just because they find a link doesn’t mean that a causality is solidly established. Rather, they attempt to identify why the connection occurs. What’s the common thread?
The Norwegian study also revealed that men and women who were divorced and women with no kids were also at increased risk. This indicates that social life has an impact on longevity.
Previous studies support this presumption. Data from over half a million people was analyzed in a study published in the Journal of Epidemiology. It reported that the risk of early death was considerably raised by social separation.
How is Longevity Increased by Social Stability?
Having relationships socially with other people has numerous life-extending benefits much like a herd of elephants or a pack of wolves:
- Mental stimulation… You’re engaging with people in conversation, jokes, sharing, and more.
- Physical stimulation… You’re more likely to get up and do things if you have people around.
- Safety… When there are more people around, there’s a greater danger you’ll receive medical attention right away if you need it.
- Support… Someone who doesn’t have a robust social network is more likely to attempt to do something risky instead of seeking help.
- Motivation… Having people around can motivate a person to get up in the morning, do new things and look forward to their day.
- Improved diet and health… Socially connected people usually have better access to healthy food and can make it to doctor’s appointments.
What is it about untreated hearing loss that causes all of this?
How Hearing Loss Plays A Role in Social Isolation And Decreased Longevity
You most likely have family who will always be there for you. It’s difficult to imagine how hearing loss may change that.
Have you ever been with a group of people you don’t know, who were ignoring you while talking to each other? You likely felt very lonely. You can begin to feel like this with neglected hearing loss. It’s not that people are ignoring you. It seems as if you’re being ignored because people are starting to have a hard time having a conversation with you.
You frequently miss parts of the conversation and that makes you feel out of the loop. Physical and emotional withdrawal, even at family events, can be the result. Going out to a restaurant with friends and participating in a social club, event or hobby loses its enjoyment. You might find that you simply avoid these kinds of interactions. Additionally, many individuals experiencing advancing hearing loss have:
- Mental exhaustion
These make social contact even more difficult.
The Norwegian researchers offer a positive side in their research, however. They reached a very important conclusion after evaluating their research. Buying hearing aids can eliminate the connection between premature death and hearing loss.
Using hearing aids helps you stay active, social, and healthier for a longer time.
Comparable studies back these facts. The American Academy of Audiology carried out one such study. They revealed that when individuals with hearing loss use hearing aids consistently, they have:
- Enhanced social life outside the home
- More independence
- Better relationships with family
Premature Death Linked to Neglected Hearing Loss
The link between hearing loss and early death is a complicated one. But when we integrate the wealth of data, a whole picture emerges. The effect of hearing loss on health, relationships, and finances is revealed. So it’s easy to identify why the early demise connection exists.
These studies also make it clear that managing hearing loss can reverse its adverse effects. You can continue to live an active, social and healthy life well into those older years.