Most people recognize that living a sedentary lifestyle and smoking isn’t good for them. But did you realize there’s intriguing 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 people who suffer from untreated hearing loss appear to die earlier even when you take these differences into consideration.
Research Connecting Premature Death to Hearing Loss
Over a two year period, stats from over 50,000 people was evaluated by Norwegian researchers. The cases of death for all the people were cross-referenced with the data. They were able to connect an increased chance of premature death to hearing loss regardless of the cause of death.
The chance of cardiovascular death is greater for individuals who have hearing loss particularly 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 Link
For scientists, just because they find a connection doesn’t mean that a causality is firmly demonstrated. Instead, they try to identify why the connection exists. How are the two really related?
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 might be connected to social ties.
Earlier research supports this presumption. Data from over half a million participants was examined in a study published in the Journal of Epidemiology. It discovered that social solitude increases the danger 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:
- Mental stimulation… You’re engaging with others in conversation, jokes, sharing, and more.
- Improved diet and health… Making it to doctor’s appointments is easier and healthy food is more readily available for individuals who are active socially.
- Physical stimulation… If you have people around you, you’re more likely to engage in physical exercise.
- Support… Someone with a healthy social network is more likely to ask for assistance if they need it (instead of trying to do something risky on their own).
- Safety… If you need medical attention, you will be more likely to get it quickly if there are more people nearby.
- Motivation… Having people around can motivate a person to get up in the morning, try new things and look forward to their day.
Why does neglected hearing loss decrease social participation?
How Hearing Loss Can Leads to Social Separation And Decreased Longevity
You most likely have family who will always be there for you. It’s hard to envision how hearing loss may change that.
Have you ever been with a group of strangers, who were ignoring you while chatting with each other? You probably felt very alone. This is what neglected hearing loss can start to feel like. People aren’t necessarily ignoring you. Actually, as the hearing loss develops, it becomes harder to share a casual conversation with you.
From your perspective, you frequently feel out of the loop because you lose parts of the conversation. This can quickly make you withdraw emotionally and physically, even at family get-togethers. The enjoyment of going to a club or restaurant with friends begins to fade away. You may find that you merely avoid these kinds of interactions. Additionally, many people experiencing advancing hearing loss have:
- Mental exhaustion
Social interactions become even more difficult because of these.
The Norwegian researchers offer a positive side in their research, however. After analyzing their research, they came to an important conclusion. The connection between premature death and hearing loss can be broken by wearing hearing aids.
Wearing hearing aids helps you remain active, social, and healthier for a longer time.
This fact can be backed by similar studies. One such study was carried out by the American Academy of Audiology. That study revealed that using hearing aids regularly had the following benefits:
- Improved social life outside the home
- More independence
- Stronger relationships with family
Early Death Linked to Untreated Hearing Loss
Premature death and hearing loss have a complicated connection. But when we combine the wealth of data, an entire picture emerges. The impact of hearing loss on relationships, health, and finances is revealed. So the premature death connection isn’t difficult to understand.
It’s also clear that getting your hearing loss treated can counter the impact of hearing loss on each aspect of life. You can keep living an active, social and healthy life well into those advanced years.