You likely already recognize that smoking is bad for you and so are things like living a sedentary lifestyle. But what most people probably don’t realize is that there is some compelling research that shows a link between early death and untreated 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 people who cope with untreated hearing loss seem to die earlier even when you take these differences into consideration.
Research Linking Premature Death to Hearing Loss
Norwegian scientists looked at the health data from more than 50,000 people over a two-year period. They cross-referenced that data with the causes of death for the studied people. They were able to link a greater risk of early death to hearing loss regardless of the cause of death.
The risk of cardiovascular death is greater for individuals with hearing loss particularly if they live by themselves and there is a 21% higher morbidity for individuals with even moderate hearing loss, according to other studies.
Clarifying The Connection
For researchers, just because they uncover a link doesn’t mean that a causality is solidly demonstrated. Rather, they attempt to determine why the connection exists. What’s the common thread?
The Norwegian study further showed that men and women who were divorced and women with no children were also at increased risk. This seemingly unrelated factor suggests that the decrease in life expectancy may be linked to social ties.
Earlier studies support this presumption. One study published in the Journal of Epidemiology examined the data for over half a million individuals. It revealed that social seclusion increases the danger of early death substantially.
How is Longevity Increased by Social Stability?
Not unlike a pack of wolves or a herd of elephants in the wild, social relationships offer several life-extending advantages to humans:
- Improved diet and health… Getting to doctor’s appointments is easier and healthy food is more immediately available for people who are active socially.
- Physical stimulation… You’re more likely to go out and do things if you have people around.
- Mental stimulation… You’re sharing, joking and conversing with people.
- Safety… If you require medical help, you will be more likely to get it quickly if there are more people nearby.
- Support… A person who doesn’t have a strong social network is more likely to attempt to do something risky instead of asking for help.
- Motivation… Getting up in the morning, doing new things, and looking forward to their day can be powerfully motivated by having others around.
What is it about neglected hearing loss that causes all of this?
Decreased Longevity And Social Isolation Can be The Result of Untreated Hearing Loss
You most likely have family who will always be there for you. How could that be fixed by hearing loss?
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. You can begin to feel like this with neglected hearing loss. People aren’t necessarily ignoring you. The truth is, as the hearing loss progresses, it becomes more difficult to share a casual conversation with you.
You frequently lose parts of the conversation and that makes you feel out of the loop. This can very easily cause you to withdraw physically and emotionally, even at family get-togethers. The appeal of going to a restaurant or club with friends begins to fade away. You might find that you simply avoid these types of interactions. Here are some other concerns that people who have progressing hearing loss cope with.:
- Mental exhaustion
These make social interactions even more challenging.
The Norwegian scientists offer a positive side in their research, however. After reviewing their research, they came to an important conclusion. The connection between early death and hearing loss can be broken by wearing hearing aids.
Using 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. They revealed that when individuals with hearing loss use hearing aids regularly, they have:
- Enhanced social life outside the home
- Stronger relationships with family
- More independence
Untreated Hearing Loss Linked to Premature Death
The link between hearing loss and premature death is a complicated one. But an entire picture appears when all of the data is considered. The impact of hearing loss on relationships, health, and finances is unveiled. So the premature death connection isn’t difficult to comprehend.
It’s also clear that getting your hearing loss treated can reverse the impact of hearing loss on each aspect of life. You can keep living an active, social and healthy life well into those older years.