You likely already know 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 compelling research that shows a connection between premature death and neglected hearing loss.
Individual 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 taking these differences into consideration, individuals with untreated hearing loss seem to die earlier.
Research Connecting Early Death to Hearing Loss
Over a two year period, stats from over 50,000 individuals was examined by Norwegian researchers. 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.
The chance of cardiovascular death is increased for individuals with hearing loss especially if they live by themselves and there is a 21% higher morbidity for people with even moderate hearing loss, according to other research.
Clarifying The Link
When scientists find a link, they never presume that one is necessarily causing the other. Determining what precisely the link is will normally be the first thing they will try to do. What’s the common thread?
The Norwegian study further showed that women and men who were divorced and women with no kids were also at increased risk. This seemingly unrelated factor suggests that the decrease in life expectancy may be linked to social ties.
Earlier research supports this assumption. One study published in the Journal of Epidemiology analyzed the data from over half a million participants. It found that social solitude increases the risk of early death significantly.
How Does Social Stability Increase Longevity?
Connecting socially with other people 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 get physical exercise.
- Motivation… Getting up in the morning, trying new things, and looking forward to their day can be strongly motivated by having others around.
- Safety… When there are more people around, there’s a higher chance you’ll receive medical attention immediately if you need it.
- Mental stimulation… You’re participating with people in conversation, jokes, sharing, and more.
- Support… Someone with a strong social group is more likely to ask for assistance if they need it (instead of attempting to do something dangerous by themselves).
- Improved diet and health… Getting to doctor’s appointments is easier and healthy food is more readily available for people who are socially active.
What is it about neglected hearing loss that takes all of this away?
How Hearing Loss Plays A Role in Social Isolation And Decreased Longevity
You probably 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 probably felt very alone. This is what untreated hearing loss can begin to feel like. People aren’t necessarily ignoring you. It seems like you’re being ignored because people are starting to have a hard time having a conversation with you.
You often lose 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. The enjoyment of going to a club or restaurant with friends begins to fade away. You may find that you merely avoid these types of interactions. In addition, many people experiencing worsening hearing loss have:
- Mental exhaustion
Social interactions become even more difficult because of these.
The Norwegian scientists offer a positive side in their research, however. After reviewing their research, they came to an important conclusion. Buying hearing aids can clear away the link between premature death and hearing loss.
Wearing hearing aids helps you stay active, social, and healthier for a longer period.
Similar studies back these facts. The American Academy of Audiology performed one such study. That study revealed that wearing hearing aids regularly had the following benefits:
- Greater independence
- Enhanced social life outside the home
- Better relationships with family
Premature Death Linked to Untreated Hearing Loss
The connection between hearing loss and early death is a complex one. But an entire picture appears when all of the data is taken into account. The effect of hearing loss on health, relationships, and finances is revealed. So the premature death link isn’t difficult to understand.
These studies also make it obvious that treating hearing loss can counter its negative effects. You can keep living an active, social and healthy life well into those advanced years.