You probably already recognize that smoking isn’t good for you and neither are things like living a sedentary lifestyle. But what most people probably don’t know is that there is some convincing research that indicates a link between premature death and untreated hearing loss.
Personal 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, individuals with neglected hearing loss seem to die earlier.
Studies Linking Premature Death to Hearing Loss
Norwegian researchers 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 could link an increased risk of premature death to hearing loss irrespective of the cause of death.
The risk of cardiovascular death is greater for people with hearing loss especially if they live by themselves and there is a 21% higher morbidity for individuals who suffer from even mild hearing loss, according to other research.
Clarifying The Link
For scientists, just because they discover a connection doesn’t mean that a causality is firmly demonstrated. Instead, they attempt to identify why the connection exists. What’s the common connection?
The Norwegian study also revealed that women and men who were divorced and women who did not have kids were also at higher risk. This seemingly unrelated factor indicates that the decrease in life expectancy may be connected to social ties.
Previous research supports this assumption. One study published in the Journal of Epidemiology evaluated the data for over half a million individuals. It found that social isolation increases the risk of early death significantly.
How is Longevity Increased by Social Stability?
Having relationships socially with others has many life-extending benefits much like a herd of elephants or a pack of wolves:
- Motivation… Getting up in the morning, trying new things, and looking forward to their day can be strongly motivated by having others around.
- Safety… If you need medical help, you will be more likely to get it quickly if there are more people nearby.
- Physical stimulation… You’re more likely to get up and do things if you have people around.
- Mental stimulation… You’re engaging with people in conversation, jokes, sharing, and more.
- Improved diet and health… Getting to doctor’s appointments is easier and healthy food is more readily available for people who are active socially.
- Support… Someone who doesn’t have a strong 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 Plays A Role in Social Separation And Decreased Longevity
You probably have family who will always be there for you. How could that be changed by hearing loss?
Have you ever been in a room full of people you don’t know enjoying each other’s company, but paying no attention to you? You probably felt very lonely. You can begin 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.
From your perspective, you often feel out of the loop because you lose parts of the conversation. Emotional and physical withdrawal, even at family gatherings, can be the result. The appeal of going to a restaurant or club with friends begins to fade away. You might find that you merely avoid these kinds of interactions. Here are some other challenges that people who have progressing hearing loss deal with.:
- Mental exhaustion
Social connections become even more stressful because of these.
However, in their research, the Norwegian researchers offer a positive side. They reached a very important conclusion after evaluating their research. The link between premature death and hearing loss can be disrupted by wearing hearing aids.
Wearing hearing aids helps you stay active, social, and healthier for a longer time.
This fact can be backed by similar studies. The American Academy of Audiology carried out one such study. They found that when people with hearing loss use hearing aids regularly, they have:
- Improved social life outside the home
- Stronger relationships with family
- More independence
Untreated Hearing Loss Connected to Early Death
The link between hearing loss and premature death is a complicated one. But an overall picture appears when all of the data is considered. It shows how hearing loss affects finances, health, relationships, and more. So it’s easy to identify why the early demise link exists.
These studies also make it obvious that managing hearing loss can reverse its negative effects. You can continue to live an active, social and healthy life well into those older years.