Most people recognize that leading a sedentary lifestyle and smoking is bad for them. But did you realize there’s fascinating research suggesting a connection between neglected 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, kind of work, and even gender. But even taking these differences into consideration, people with neglected hearing loss seem to die earlier.
Studies Connecting Premature Death to Hearing Loss
Norwegian researchers evaluated 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 studied people. Whatever the cause, early death could be linked to neglected hearing loss.
The risk of cardiovascular death is greater for people who have hearing loss especially if they live by themselves and there is a 21% higher morbidity for people with even moderate hearing loss, according to other research.
Clarifying The Link
Any time scientists discover a link, they never assume that one is necessarily producing the other. Identifying what exactly the connection is will normally be the first thing they will try to do. How are the two really related?
The Norwegian study further revealed that men and women who were divorced and women who did not have children were also at higher risk. This seemingly unrelated factor suggests that the decrease in life expectancy may be related to social ties.
Previous research supports this assumption. Data from over half a million participants was analyzed in a study published in the Journal of Epidemiology. It found that social seclusion raises the danger of early death considerably.
How is Longevity Increased by Social Stability?
Connecting socially with others has numerous life-extending advantages much like a herd of elephants or a pack of wolves:
- Physical stimulation… If you have people around you, you’re more likely to engage in physical exercise.
- Improved diet and health… Socially connected people often have better access to healthy food and can make it to doctor’s appointments.
- Mental stimulation… You’re participating with others in conversation, jokes, sharing, and more.
- Motivation… Having people around can encourage a person to get up, do new things and look forward to their day.
- Support… Someone with a healthy social group is more likely to ask for assistance if they require it (instead of attempting to do something risky on their own).
- Safety… When there are more people around, there’s a greater chance you’ll receive medical attention right away if needed.
Why does neglected hearing loss decrease social participation?
How Hearing Loss Contributes to Social Isolation And Decreased Longevity
You probably have a very close relationship with your loved ones. How could that be fixed by hearing loss?
Have you ever been in a room full of strangers enjoying the company of each other, but ignoring you? You likely felt very lonely. This is what untreated hearing loss can start to feel like. It’s not that people are ignoring you. It seems as if you’re being ignored because people are beginning to have a hard time having a conversation with you.
From your perspective, you often feel out of the loop because you miss parts of the conversation. This can quickly make you withdraw physically and emotionally, even at family events. The appeal of going to a club or restaurant with friends starts to fade away. Simply avoiding these kinds of situations becomes common. In addition, many individuals suffering from worsening hearing loss have:
- Mental exhaustion
These make social interactions even more difficult.
The Norwegian scientists offer a silver lining in their research, however. They reached a very important conclusion after evaluating their research. The link between premature death and hearing loss can be disrupted by wearing hearing aids.
You will remain 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 performed by the American Academy of Audiology. That study revealed that wearing hearing aids regularly had the following benefits:
- Stronger relationships with family
- Greater independence
- Enhanced social life outside the home
Neglected Hearing Loss Connected to Premature Death
The connection between hearing loss and early death is a complicated one. But when we integrate the wealth of data, a whole picture appears. It reveals how hearing loss affects health, finances, relationships, and more. So the premature death connection isn’t hard to understand.
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.