Most people recognize that leading a sedentary lifestyle and smoking isn’t good for them. But did you realize there is fascinating research suggesting a connection between untreated hearing loss and premature death?
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 seem to die earlier.
Research Connecting Early Death to Hearing Loss
Over a two year period, data from more than 50,000 people was evaluated by Norwegian researchers. They cross-referenced that data with the causes of death for the examined individuals. Whatever the cause, premature death could be connected to untreated hearing loss.
Other research reveals that even moderate hearing loss is associated with a 21% greater morbidity rate and that there’s an increased danger of cardiovascular death for individuals with hearing loss, especially if they live alone.
Clarifying The Link
For scientists, just because they find a connection doesn’t mean that a causality is solidly demonstrated. Rather, they attempt to identify why the connection occurs. What’s the common thread?
In this same study it was reported that there was a greater risk in women with no children and men and women who are divorced. This suggests that social life has an effect on longevity.
Previous studies support this presumption. One study published in the Journal of Epidemiology analyzed the data for more than half a million participants. It revealed that social seclusion increases the danger of early death significantly.
How Does Social Stability Contribute to Longevity?
Much like a pack of wolves or a herd of elephants in nature, social relationships offer several life-extending benefits to humans:
- Motivation… Getting up in the morning, doing new things, and looking forward to their day can be greatly motivated by having people around.
- Support… Someone with a healthy social group is more likely to ask for help if they need it (instead of attempting to do something dangerous on their own).
- Physical stimulation… You’re more likely to go out and do things if you have people around.
- Mental stimulation… You’re participating with others in conversation, jokes, sharing, and more.
- Safety… If you need medical attention, you will be more likely to get it right away if there are more people around.
- Improved diet and health… Getting to doctor’s appointments is easier and healthy food is more readily available for individuals who are socially active.
Why does untreated hearing loss decrease social participation?
How Hearing Loss Can Leads to Social Isolation And Decreased Longevity
You most likely have a very close relationship with your loved ones. It’s difficult to imagine how hearing loss may change that.
Have you ever been in a room full of people you don’t know enjoying the company of each other, but paying no attention to you? You probably felt very alone. You can start 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 tough time having a 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 gatherings, can be the outcome. Going out with friends to a restaurant and attending a social club, event or hobby loses its enjoyment. You might find that you simply avoid these types of interactions. Additionally, many individuals experiencing worsening hearing loss have:
- Mental exhaustion
Social interactions become even more challenging because of these.
The Norwegian researchers offer a positive side in their research, however. They reached a very important conclusion after evaluating their research. The link between early death and hearing loss can be broken by wearing hearing aids.
Using hearing aids helps you stay active, social, and healthier for a longer period.
Similar studies support these facts. The American Academy of Audiology conducted one such study. They revealed that when those with hearing loss wear hearing aids consistently, they have:
- Better relationships with family
- Improved social life outside the home
- More independence
Early Death Linked to Neglected 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. The effect of hearing loss on relationships, health, and finances is revealed. So the early death connection isn’t difficult to understand.
It’s also evident that having your hearing loss treated can reverse the effects of hearing loss on every aspect of life. You will live a longer, socially active and healthier life.