You probably already recognize that smoking isn’t good for you and neither are things like living a sedentary lifestyle. But did you realize there’s fascinating research suggesting a link between untreated hearing loss and early death?
Individual life expectancy varies widely, of course. This variance can be linked to things like access to healthy foods, where you live, healthcare accessibility, kind of work, and even gender. But even taking these differences into consideration, people with neglected hearing loss seem to die earlier.
Studies Connecting Early Death to Hearing Loss
Norwegian scientists looked at 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, premature death could be linked to untreated hearing loss.
The risk of cardiovascular death is increased for those who have hearing loss especially if they live by themselves and there is a 21% higher morbidity for individuals with even mild hearing loss, according to other studies.
Clarifying The Connection
Any time scientists discover a connection, they never assume that one is necessarily causing the other. Rather, they attempt to determine why the connection exists. How are the two really related?
The Norwegian study further revealed that women and men who were divorced and women who did not have children were also at higher risk. This seemingly unrelated factor suggests that the decrease in life expectancy may be related to social ties.
This assumption is backed by earlier studies. One study published in the Journal of Epidemiology examined the data from over half a million participants. It revealed that social seclusion raises the risk of early death significantly.
How is Longevity Increased by Social Stability?
Having relationships socially with other people has numerous life-extending advantages much like a herd of elephants or a pack of wolves:
- Mental stimulation… You’re participating with others in conversation, jokes, sharing, and more.
- Support… A person with a healthy social network is more likely to ask for assistance if they require it (instead of attempting to do something risky by themselves).
- Safety… When there are more people around, there’s a greater chance you’ll get medical attention right away if you need it.
- Physical stimulation… If you have people around you, you’re more likely to engage in physical exercise.
- 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.
- Motivation… Getting up in the morning, doing new things, and looking forward to their day can be greatly motivated by having others around.
What is it about neglected hearing loss that takes all of this away?
Decreased Longevity And Social Isolation Can be The Result of Neglected Hearing Loss
You probably 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 chatting with each other? You likely felt very alone. You can begin to feel like this with untreated hearing loss. People aren’t necessarily ignoring you. The truth is, as the hearing loss develops, it becomes harder to have a casual conversation with you.
From your perspective, you often feel out of the loop because you miss parts of the conversation. This can very easily cause you to withdraw emotionally and physically, even at family gatherings. The enjoyment of going to a club or restaurant with friends begins to fade away. Simply avoiding these types of scenarios becomes common. Additionally, many individuals experiencing advancing hearing loss have:
- Mental exhaustion
Social interactions become even more stressful because of these.
However, in their research, the Norwegian researchers offer a positive side. They reached a significant conclusion after examining their research. Purchasing hearing aids can eliminate the link between premature death and hearing loss.
Wearing hearing aids helps you stay active, social, and healthier for a longer time.
This fact can be backed by similar research. The American Academy of Audiology conducted one such study. That study revealed that using hearing aids regularly had the following benefits:
- Enhanced social life outside the home
- Better relationships with family
- Greater independence
Untreated Hearing Loss Connected to Premature Death
The connection between hearing loss and early death is a complex one. But when we combine the wealth of data, a whole picture emerges. It demonstrates how hearing loss affects finances, health, relationships, and more. So the early death link isn’t hard to understand.
These studies also make it obvious that managing hearing loss can counter its detrimental effects. You can keep living an active, social and healthy life well into those older years.