Most people recognize that leading a sedentary lifestyle and smoking is bad for them. But what most people probably don’t realize is that there is some compelling research that demonstrates a connection between premature death and untreated hearing loss.
Of course, life expectancy varies widely. This variance can be linked to things like where you live, access to healthy foods, healthcare accessibility, kind of work, and even gender. But people who suffer from neglected hearing loss appear to die earlier even when you take these differences into consideration.
Research Connecting Premature Death to Hearing Loss
Norwegian scientists evaluated the health data from more than 50,000 individuals over a two-year period. They cross-referenced that data with the causes of death for the studied individuals. Whatever the cause, premature death could be connected to neglected hearing loss.
Other studies show that even mild hearing loss is linked to a 21% higher morbidity rate and that there’s an increased risk of cardiovascular death for those with hearing loss, especially if they live by themselves.
Clarifying The Link
Any time scientists discover a connection, they never presume that one is necessarily causing the other. Determining what precisely the link is will usually be the first thing they will try to do. 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 greater risk. This seemingly unrelated element indicates that the decrease in life expectancy may be linked to social ties.
This presumption is supported by previous studies. One study published in the Journal of Epidemiology analyzed the data from over half a million participants. It revealed that social isolation increases the risk of early death significantly.
How Does Social Stability Increase Longevity?
Not unlike a pack of wolves or a herd of elephants in nature, social relationships offer a number of life-extending advantages to humans:
- Improved diet and health… Getting to doctor’s appointments is easier and healthy food is more immediately available for individuals who are active socially.
- Motivation… Getting up in the morning, trying new things, and looking forward to their day can be powerfully motivated by having others around.
- Support… A person who doesn’t have a strong social network is more likely to attempt to do something hazardous instead of asking for help.
- Safety… When there are more people around, there’s a higher chance you’ll receive medical attention immediately if you need it.
- Physical stimulation… If you have people around you, you’re more likely to get physical exercise.
- Mental stimulation… You’re sharing, joking and conversing with others.
Why does neglected hearing loss stop social participation?
How Hearing Loss Can Leads 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 might change that.
Have you ever been in a room full of strangers enjoying the company of each other, but ignoring you? You likely felt very lonely. This is what neglected hearing loss can begin to feel like. People aren’t necessarily ignoring you. It seems like you’re being ignored because people are beginning to have a difficult time having a conversation with you.
You frequently miss parts of the conversation and that makes you feel out of the loop. Physical and emotional withdrawal, even at family gatherings, can be the outcome. Going out to a restaurant with friends and attending a social club, event or hobby loses its appeal. Simply avoiding these types of situations becomes common. Additionally, many people suffering from advancing hearing loss have:
- Mental exhaustion
These make social contact even more difficult.
The Norwegian researchers offer a positive side in their research, however. They reached a significant conclusion after examining their research. The connection between early 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.
This fact can be supported by similar studies. One such study was performed by the American Academy of Audiology. They found that when individuals with hearing loss use hearing aids consistently, they have:
- Improved social life outside the home
- Greater independence
- Stronger relationships with family
Neglected Hearing Loss Connected to Early Death
Early death and hearing loss have a complicated connection. But when we integrate the abundance of data, an entire picture appears. The effect of hearing loss on health, relationships, and finances is revealed. So the premature death link isn’t hard to comprehend.
These studies also make it clear that managing hearing loss can reverse its negative effects. You can keep living an active, social and healthy life well into those advanced years.