You likely already know that smoking isn’t good for you and neither are things like leading a sedentary lifestyle. But did you realize there is fascinating research suggesting a connection between untreated hearing loss and premature death?
Of course, life expectancy varies widely. This variance can be related to things like where you live, access to healthy foods, healthcare accessibility, type of work, and even gender. But even accounting for these differences, people with neglected hearing loss appear to die earlier.
Studies Connecting Early Death to Hearing Loss
Norwegian scientists evaluated the health data from over 50,000 people over a two-year period. The cases of death for all the individuals were cross-referenced with the data. They were able to connect a greater risk of premature death to hearing loss irrespective of the cause of death.
Other studies show that even moderate hearing loss is related to a 21% higher morbidity rate and that there’s an increased risk of cardiovascular death for individuals with hearing loss, particularly if they live by themselves.
Clarifying The Connection
When scientists discover a link, they never presume that one is necessarily producing the other. Identifying what exactly the connection is will usually be the first thing they will try to do. How are the two really related?
In this same study it was reported that there was a greater risk in women with no children and men and women who are divorced. This indicates that social life has an effect on longevity.
Previous studies support this presumption. Data from over half a million individuals was assessed in a study published in the Journal of Epidemiology. It revealed that the chance of early death was significantly raised by social separation.
How Does Social Stability Contribute to Longevity?
Much like a pack of wolves or a herd of elephants in nature, social connections offer several life-extending benefits to humans:
- Physical stimulation… You’re more likely to go out and do things if you have people around.
- Improved diet and health… Getting to doctor’s appointments is easier and healthy food is more readily available for individuals who are socially active.
- Support… A person with a strong social group is more likely to ask for help if they need it (instead of attempting to do something risky by themselves).
- Motivation… Having people around can motivate a person to get up, try new things and look forward to their day.
- Mental stimulation… You’re engaging with people in conversation, jokes, sharing, and more.
- Safety… When there are more people around, there’s a greater chance you’ll get medical attention immediately if you need it.
What is it about untreated hearing loss that takes all of this away?
Decreased Longevity And Social Isolation Can be The Consequence of Neglected Hearing Loss
You probably have a very close relationship with your loved ones. It’s difficult to envision how hearing loss might change that.
Have you ever been in a room full of strangers enjoying each other’s company, but ignoring you? It was most likely a lonely feeling. You can start to feel like this with neglected hearing loss. It’s not that people are ignoring you. Actually, as the hearing loss progresses, it gets harder to share a casual conversation with you.
From your perspective, you often feel out of the loop because you lose parts of the conversation. This can very easily cause you to withdraw physically and emotionally, even at family events. The enjoyment of going to a restaurant or club with friends starts to fade away. Simply avoiding these types of scenarios becomes common. Here are some other challenges that individuals who have progressing hearing loss deal with.:
- Mental exhaustion
Social interactions become even more stressful because of these.
The Norwegian scientists offer a positive side in their research, however. They reached a very important conclusion after analyzing their research. The link between early death and hearing loss can be broken by wearing hearing aids.
You will remain healthier, more active and social if you use hearing aids and that can give you longevity.
This fact can be supported by similar studies. One such study was performed by the American Academy of Audiology. That study revealed that using hearing aids regularly had the following benefits:
- Greater independence
- Stronger relationships with family
- Enhanced social life outside the home
Untreated Hearing Loss Connected to Early Death
The connection between hearing loss and premature death is a complex one. But when we combine the wealth of data, a whole picture appears. The impact of hearing loss on relationships, health, and finances is revealed. So the early death connection isn’t difficult to comprehend.
These studies also make it clear that treating hearing loss can reverse its negative effects. You can continue to live an active, social and healthy life well into those older years.