You probably already recognize that smoking isn’t good for you and neither are things like leading a sedentary lifestyle. But what most people probably don’t realize is that there is some compelling research that indicates 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 even accounting for these differences, people with neglected hearing loss appear to die earlier.
Studies Linking Early 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 examined individuals. Whatever the cause, premature death could be connected to neglected hearing loss.
The chance of cardiovascular death is increased for individuals 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 link, they never presume that one is necessarily causing the other. Instead, they attempt to identify why the connection exists. What’s the common thread?
In this same study it was reported that there was a greater risk in women with no kids and men and women who are divorced. This indicates that social life has an effect on longevity.
Earlier studies support this assumption. Data from more than half a million individuals was examined in a study published in the Journal of Epidemiology. It discovered that social seclusion raises the danger of early death substantially.
How Does Social Stability Contribute to Longevity?
Connecting socially with others has numerous life-extending advantages much like a herd of elephants or a pack of wolves:
- Support… Someone with a robust social network is more likely to ask for help if they need it (instead of attempting to do something risky by themselves).
- Mental stimulation… You’re engaging with people in conversation, jokes, sharing, and more.
- Safety… If you require medical help, you will be more likely to get it right away if there are more people nearby.
- 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… Having people around can encourage a person to get up, try new things and look forward to their day.
- Physical stimulation… You’re more likely to go out and do things if you have people around.
What is it about untreated hearing loss that takes all of this away?
How Hearing Loss Plays A Role in Social Isolation And Decreased Longevity
You most likely have a very close relationship with your loved ones. It’s hard to imagine 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. This is what untreated hearing loss can start to feel like. It’s not that people are 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 miss parts of the conversation. Physical and emotional withdrawal, even at family gatherings, can be the outcome. The appeal of going to a restaurant or club with friends starts to fade away. Simply avoiding these kinds of situations becomes common. In addition, many people experiencing advancing hearing loss have:
- Mental exhaustion
These make social contact even more challenging.
The Norwegian scientists offer a silver lining in their research, however. After analyzing their research, they came to an important conclusion. Purchasing hearing aids can eliminate the connection between early death and hearing loss.
You will stay healthier, more active and social if you wear hearing aids and that can give you longevity.
This fact can be reinforced by similar research. One such study was carried out by the American Academy of Audiology. That study revealed that using hearing aids consistently had the following benefits:
- Stronger relationships with family
- Greater independence
- Improved social life outside the home
Untreated Hearing Loss Connected to Early Death
The connection between hearing loss and early death is a complicated one. But an overall picture appears when all of the data is considered. The effect of hearing loss on health, relationships, and finances is revealed. So the premature death link isn’t hard to comprehend.
It’s also clear that getting your hearing loss treated can counter the effects of hearing loss on each aspect of life. You can continue to live an active, social and healthy life well into those older years.