Most people understand that leading a sedentary lifestyle and smoking is bad for them. But what most people probably don’t know is that there is some compelling research that indicates a connection between premature death and neglected hearing loss.
Individual life expectancy varies widely, of course. This variance can be connected to things like where you live, access to healthy foods, healthcare accessibility, kind of work, and even gender. But even taking these differences into consideration, individuals with neglected hearing loss appear to die earlier.
Research Connecting Early Death to Hearing Loss
Norwegian researchers evaluated the health data from over 50,000 people over a two-year period. They cross-referenced that data with the causes of death for the studied individuals. Whatever the cause, early death could be connected to untreated hearing loss.
The chance of cardiovascular death is greater for people with hearing loss especially if they live by themselves and there is a 21% higher morbidity for people with even mild hearing loss, according to other research.
Clarifying The Connection
Any time scientists find a link, they never presume that one is necessarily producing the other. Instead, they try to establish why the connection occurs. How are the two really related?
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 assumption. Data from over half a million individuals was examined in a study published in the Journal of Epidemiology. It reported that the chance of early death was substantially raised by social separation.
How Does Social Stability Contribute to Longevity?
Not unlike a pack of wolves or a herd of elephants in the wild, social relationships offer a number of life-extending advantages to humans:
- Improved diet and health… Socially connected people frequently have better access to healthy food and can make it to doctor’s appointments.
- Safety… If you need medical help, you will be more likely to get it quickly if there are more people around.
- Support… A person with a healthy social group is more likely to ask for assistance if they need it (instead of attempting to do something dangerous by themselves).
- Physical stimulation… If you have people around you, you’re more likely to get physical exercise.
- Motivation… Having people around can encourage a person to get up, try new things and look forward to their day.
- Mental stimulation… You’re participating with others in conversation, jokes, sharing, and more.
Why does untreated hearing loss decrease social participation?
How Hearing Loss Contributes to 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 chatting with each other? It was probably a lonely feeling. You can start to feel like this with untreated hearing loss. It’s not that people are ignoring you. It seems as if you’re being ignored because people are beginning to have a hard time having a conversation with you.
From your perspective, you frequently feel out of the loop because you miss parts of the conversation. This can very easily make you withdraw physically and emotionally, even at family gatherings. Going out with friends to a restaurant and participating in a social club, event or hobby loses its enjoyment. Simply avoiding these kinds of scenarios becomes common. Here are some other challenges that individuals who have progressing hearing loss cope with.:
- Mental exhaustion
Social connections become even more difficult because of these.
However, in their research, the Norwegian researchers offer a silver lining. After reviewing their research, they came to a significant conclusion. The connection between premature death and hearing loss can be broken by wearing hearing aids.
Wearing hearing aids helps you stay active, social, and healthier for a longer period.
Comparable studies back these facts. One such study was conducted by the American Academy of Audiology. They revealed that when individuals with hearing loss wear hearing aids regularly, they have:
- Stronger relationships with family
- Greater independence
- Improved social life outside the home
Early Death Linked to Untreated Hearing Loss
The link between hearing loss and premature death is a complex one. But an entire picture appears when all of the data is taken into account. It reveals how hearing loss impacts health, finances, relationships, and more. So it’s easy to see why the premature demise link exists.
It’s also obvious that getting your hearing loss treated can reverse the impact of hearing loss on every part of life. You will live a longer, socially active and healthier life.