You probably already recognize that smoking is bad for you and so are things like living a sedentary lifestyle. But what most people probably don’t know is that there is some convincing research that indicates a link between early death and untreated hearing loss.
Of course, life expectancy varies widely. 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 neglected hearing loss appear to die earlier.
Research Linking Early Death to Hearing Loss
Norwegian scientists looked at the health data from over 50,000 individuals over a two-year period. The cases of death for all the individuals were cross-referenced with the data. Whatever the cause, premature death could be linked to neglected hearing loss.
Other research reveals that even mild hearing loss is associated with a 21% greater morbidity rate and that there’s an increased risk of cardiovascular death for people who have hearing loss, particularly if they live alone.
Clarifying The Link
For scientists, just because they uncover a link doesn’t mean that a causality is solidly established. Instead, they attempt to determine why the connection exists. How are the two really linked?
The Norwegian study further revealed that women and men who were divorced and women who did not have children were also at greater risk. This seemingly unrelated factor suggests that the decrease in life expectancy may be related to social ties.
This assumption is supported by earlier research. Data from over half a million participants was examined in a study published in the Journal of Epidemiology. It revealed that social seclusion increases the risk of early death considerably.
How is Longevity Increased by Social Stability?
Much like a pack of wolves or a herd of elephants in the wild, social relationships offer a number of life-extending benefits to humans:
- Support… A person with a robust social network is more likely to ask for assistance if they require it (instead of attempting to do something dangerous by themselves).
- Improved diet and health… Socially connected people usually have greater access to healthy food and can make it to doctor’s appointments.
- Safety… If you need medical attention, you will be more likely to get it quickly if there are more people nearby.
- Physical stimulation… You’re more likely to go out and do things if you have people around.
- Mental stimulation… You’re sharing, joking and conversing with people.
- Motivation… Getting up in the morning, doing new things, and looking forward to their day can be strongly motivated by having others around.
Why does neglected hearing loss decrease social participation?
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 envision how hearing loss may change that.
Have you ever been in a room full of strangers enjoying each other’s company, but paying no attention to you? You likely felt very lonely. You can start to feel like this with neglected hearing loss. People aren’t necessarily ignoring you. It seems as if you’re being ignored because people are starting to have a hard time having a conversation with you.
You frequently miss parts of the conversation and that makes you feel out of the loop. This can very easily make you withdraw physically and emotionally, even at family gatherings. The enjoyment of going to a club or restaurant with friends starts to fade away. You may find that you simply avoid these kinds of interactions. In addition, many individuals experiencing advancing hearing loss have:
- 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 evaluating their research. The link between premature death and hearing loss can be broken by wearing hearing aids.
You will stay healthier, more active and social if you wear hearing aids and that can give you longevity.
Similar studies back these facts. One such study was carried out by the American Academy of Audiology. They found that when those with hearing loss wear hearing aids regularly, they have:
- Stronger relationships with family
- Improved social life outside the home
- Greater independence
Untreated Hearing Loss Connected to Early Death
The connection between hearing loss and premature death is a complicated one. But when we integrate the wealth of data, an entire picture appears. The impact of hearing loss on relationships, health, and finances is unveiled. So it’s easy to see why the early demise link exists.
These studies also make it clear that treating hearing loss can reverse its negative effects. You will live a longer, healthier and socially active life.