Most people understand that living a sedentary lifestyle and smoking isn’t good for them. But what most people probably don’t realize is that there is some convincing research that demonstrates 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 taking these differences into consideration, people with untreated hearing loss appear to die earlier.
Studies Connecting Early Death to Hearing Loss
Norwegian scientists looked at the health data from more than 50,000 individuals over a two-year period. They cross-referenced that data with the causes of death for the examined individuals. They were able to connect a greater chance of premature death to hearing loss irrespective of the cause of death.
The chance of cardiovascular death is greater for people who have hearing loss particularly if they live by themselves and there is a 21% higher morbidity for individuals with even mild hearing loss, according to other research.
Clarifying The Connection
For researchers, just because they uncover a connection doesn’t mean that a causality is firmly established. Identifying what exactly the link is will normally be the first thing they will attempt to do. How are the two really linked?
In this same study it was revealed that there was a greater risk in women with no kids and women and men who are divorced. This seemingly unrelated factor suggests that the decrease in life expectancy may be related to social ties.
Earlier studies support this assumption. One study published in the Journal of Epidemiology analyzed the data for over half a million participants. It revealed that the chance of early death was significantly raised by social isolation.
How is Longevity Increased by Social Stability?
Much like a pack of wolves or a herd of elephants in nature, social relationships offer numerous life-extending advantages to humans:
- Improved diet and health… Socially connected people usually have better access to healthy food and can get to doctor’s appointments.
- Safety… When there are more people around, there’s a greater chance you’ll get medical attention right away if you need it.
- Mental stimulation… You’re participating with others in conversation, jokes, sharing, and more.
- Physical stimulation… You’re more likely to get up and do things if you have people around.
- Support… A person with a strong social network is more likely to ask for assistance if they require it (instead of trying to do something risky on their own).
- Motivation… Having people around can encourage a person to get up in the morning, try new things and look forward to their day.
What is it about neglected hearing loss that causes all of this?
How Hearing Loss Contributes to Social Separation And Decreased Longevity
You most likely have family who will always be there for you. How could that be changed by hearing loss?
Have you ever been with a group of people you don’t know, who were ignoring you while talking to each other? It was probably a lonely feeling. You can start to feel like this with untreated hearing loss. It’s not that people are ignoring you. Actually, as the hearing loss develops, it becomes harder to have a casual conversation with you.
On your side of things, you often feel out of the loop because you miss parts of the conversation. Emotional and physical withdrawal, even at family events, can be the outcome. Going out with friends to a restaurant and participating in a social club, event or hobby loses its enjoyment. You may find that you merely avoid these types of interactions. Here are some other challenges that individuals who have progressing hearing loss cope with.:
- Mental exhaustion
Social interactions become even more challenging because of these.
The Norwegian researchers offer a silver lining in their research, however. They reached a very important conclusion after analyzing their research. The connection 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.
Comparable studies support these facts. The American Academy of Audiology carried out one such study. They found that when individuals with hearing loss use hearing aids consistently, they have:
- Improved social life outside the home
- More independence
- Better relationships with family
Untreated Hearing Loss Linked to Early Death
The link between hearing loss and early death is a complicated one. But an overall picture emerges when all of the data is considered. It demonstrates how hearing loss affects finances, health, relationships, and more. So it’s easy to see why the early demise connection exists.
It’s also clear that having your hearing loss treated can counter the effects of hearing loss on each part of life. You will live a longer, socially active and healthier life.
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