Most people recognize that living a sedentary lifestyle and smoking isn’t good for them. But what most people probably don’t know is that there is some convincing research that demonstrates a connection between early death and neglected hearing loss.
Of course, life expectancy varies widely. Access to healthcare, where you live, gender, type of work, and access to healthy food can all be factors in this variance. But even taking these differences into consideration, individuals with neglected hearing loss seem to die earlier.
Research Linking Early Death to Hearing Loss
Over a two year period, stats from over 50,000 people was evaluated by Norwegian researchers. The cases of death for all the people were cross-referenced with the data. Whatever the cause, early death could be linked to neglected hearing loss.
Other research reveals that even mild hearing loss is related to a 21% higher morbidity rate and that there’s an increased danger of cardiovascular death for people who have hearing loss, particularly if they live alone.
Clarifying The Link
Any time scientists find a link, they never presume that one is necessarily causing the other. Determining what precisely the link is will normally be the first thing they will try to do. How are the two really related?
The Norwegian study further showed that men and women who were divorced and women with no children were also at higher risk. This suggests that social life has an impact on longevity.
This presumption is supported by earlier studies. One study published in the Journal of Epidemiology evaluated the data from more than half a million individuals. It revealed that the risk of early death was significantly increased by social separation.
How Does Social Stability Contribute to Longevity?
Not unlike a pack of wolves or a herd of elephants in the wild, social connections offer numerous life-extending benefits to humans:
- Improved diet and health… Making it to doctor’s appointments is easier and healthy food is more immediately available for people who are active socially.
- Safety… When there are more people around, there’s a greater chance you’ll get medical attention right away if needed.
- Mental stimulation… You’re sharing, joking and conversing with people.
- Motivation… Having people around can motivate a person to get up, do new things and look forward to their day.
- Support… A person who doesn’t have a strong social network is more likely to attempt to do something risky instead of seeking help.
- Physical stimulation… If you have people around you, you’re more likely to engage in physical exercise.
What is it about untreated hearing loss that causes all of this?
How Hearing Loss Plays A Role in Social Isolation And Decreased Longevity
You probably have family who will always be there for you. It’s difficult to imagine how hearing loss might change that.
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 lonely. You can start to feel like this with untreated hearing loss. People aren’t necessarily ignoring you. It seems like you’re being ignored because people are starting to have a hard time having a conversation with you.
On your side of things, you frequently feel out of the loop because you miss parts of the conversation. Emotional and physical withdrawal, even at family events, can be the result. The appeal of going to a club or restaurant with friends begins to fade away. You may find that you merely avoid these types of interactions. Additionally, many people suffering from advancing hearing loss have:
- Mental exhaustion
Social connections become even more stressful because of these.
The Norwegian researchers offer a positive side in their research, however. After examining their research, they came to an important conclusion. The link between premature death and hearing loss can be disrupted by wearing hearing aids.
Using hearing aids helps you remain active, social, and healthier for a longer period.
Comparable studies support these facts. One such study was carried out by the American Academy of Audiology. They found that when individuals with hearing loss wear hearing aids consistently, they have:
- Stronger relationships with family
- Improved social life outside the home
- Greater independence
Neglected Hearing Loss Linked to Premature Death
The connection between hearing loss and premature death is a complex one. But an overall picture emerges when all of the data is considered. The effect of hearing loss on relationships, health, and finances is unveiled. So it’s easy to see why the premature demise connection exists.
It’s also obvious that getting your hearing loss treated can reverse the impact of hearing loss on each aspect of life. You will live a longer, healthier and socially active life.