You probably already know that smoking is bad for you and so are things like living a sedentary lifestyle. But did you know there’s fascinating research suggesting a link between neglected hearing loss and early death?
Personal life expectancy varies widely, of course. Access to healthcare, where you live, type of work, gender, and access to healthy food can all be factors in this variance. But even accounting for these differences, individuals with untreated hearing loss seem to die earlier.
Studies Linking Premature 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 people. They were able to link an increased risk of premature death to hearing loss regardless of the cause of death.
The risk of cardiovascular death is greater for those who have hearing loss particularly if they live by themselves and there is a 21% higher morbidity for individuals who suffer from even mild hearing loss, according to other studies.
Clarifying The Link
For scientists, just because they find a connection doesn’t mean that a causality is firmly demonstrated. Identifying what exactly the connection is will usually be the first thing they will try to do. How are the two really related?
The Norwegian study also revealed that men and women who were divorced and women with no children were also at higher risk. This suggests that social life has an effect on longevity.
This presumption is supported by earlier studies. Data from more than half a million people was assessed in a study published in the Journal of Epidemiology. It reported that the risk of early death was significantly raised by social isolation.
How Does Social Stability Contribute to Longevity?
Not unlike a pack of wolves or a herd of elephants in nature, social connections offer numerous life-extending benefits to humans:
- Support… Someone with a healthy social network is more likely to ask for assistance if they require it (instead of trying to do something risky on their own).
- Safety… If you need medical help, you will be more likely to get it quickly if there are more people nearby.
- Motivation… Getting up in the morning, doing new things, and looking forward to their day can be strongly motivated by having people around.
- Mental stimulation… You’re participating with people in conversation, jokes, sharing, and more.
- Improved diet and health… Socially connected people often have better access to healthy food and can make it to doctor’s appointments.
- Physical stimulation… If you have people around you, you’re more likely to get physical exercise.
Why does neglected hearing loss decrease social participation?
Decreased Longevity And Social Isolation Can be The Consequence of Neglected Hearing Loss
You probably have family who will always be there for you. It’s hard to imagine how hearing loss may change that.
Have you ever been in a room full of people you don’t know enjoying the company of each other, but ignoring you? You probably felt very lonely. This is what untreated hearing loss can begin to feel like. People aren’t necessarily ignoring you. The truth is, as the hearing loss develops, it becomes more difficult to share a casual conversation with you.
From your perspective, you often feel out of the loop because you lose parts of the conversation. Emotional and physical withdrawal, even at family gatherings, can be the outcome. The appeal of going to a restaurant or club with friends begins to fade away. Simply avoiding these kinds of situations becomes common. Here are a few other challenges that people who have progressing hearing loss cope with.:
- Mental exhaustion
Social interactions become even more challenging because of these.
However, in their research, the Norwegian researchers offer a silver lining. After analyzing their research, they came to an important conclusion. The link between early death and hearing loss can be disrupted by wearing hearing aids.
Wearing hearing aids helps you stay active, social, and healthier for a longer period.
Similar studies back these facts. One such study was performed by the American Academy of Audiology. That study revealed that wearing hearing aids regularly had the following benefits:
- More independence
- Improved social life outside the home
- Better relationships with family
Premature Death Linked to Untreated Hearing Loss
The link between hearing loss and early death is a complex one. 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 it’s easy to see why the early demise connection exists.
It’s also obvious that having your hearing loss treated can reverse the effects of hearing loss on each aspect of life. You can continue to live an active, social and healthy life well into those advanced years.