Most people understand that leading a sedentary lifestyle and smoking isn’t good for them. But did you know there’s fascinating research suggesting a connection between untreated hearing loss and early death?
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 accounting for these differences, individuals with untreated hearing loss appear to die earlier.
Studies Connecting Premature Death to Hearing Loss
Over a two year period, data from more than 50,000 individuals was evaluated by Norwegian researchers. The cases of death for all the people were cross-referenced with the data. They were able to connect an increased chance of early death to hearing loss irrespective of the cause of death.
The risk of cardiovascular death is increased for those 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
For researchers, just because they discover a connection doesn’t mean that a causality is solidly established. Rather, they try to establish why the connection exists. What’s the common connection?
In this same study it was reported that there was an increased risk in women with no kids and men and women who are divorced. This seemingly unrelated factor suggests that the decrease in life expectancy may be related to social ties.
This assumption is backed by previous studies. One study published in the Journal of Epidemiology examined the data for more than half a million participants. It reported that the risk of early death was significantly raised by social isolation.
How Does Social Stability Contribute to Longevity?
Not unlike a pack of wolves or a herd of elephants in the wild, social relationships offer several life-extending advantages to humans:
- Improved diet and health… Socially connected people frequently have greater access to healthy food and can get to doctor’s appointments.
- Safety… When there are more people around, there’s a greater risk you’ll receive medical attention right away if you need it.
- Mental stimulation… You’re sharing, joking and conversing with others.
- Motivation… Getting up in the morning, trying new things, and looking forward to their day can be strongly motivated by having others around.
- Physical stimulation… You’re more likely to get up and do things if you have people around.
- Support… A person with a healthy social network is more likely to ask for assistance if they require it (instead of trying to do something dangerous by themselves).
Why does untreated hearing loss decrease social participation?
How Hearing Loss Contributes to Social Isolation And Decreased Longevity
You most likely 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 talking to each other? It was probably a lonely feeling. This is what neglected hearing loss can start to feel like. It’s not that people are ignoring you. Actually, as the hearing loss develops, it gets more difficult to have a casual conversation with you.
You frequently miss parts of the conversation and that makes you feel out of the loop. Emotional and physical withdrawal, even at family gatherings, can be the outcome. Going out with friends to a restaurant and participating in a social club, event or hobby loses its enjoyment. Simply avoiding these types of situations becomes common. Here are a few other challenges that people who have progressing hearing loss cope with.:
- Mental exhaustion
Social connections become even more difficult because of these.
The Norwegian scientists offer a silver lining in their research, however. They reached a significant conclusion after analyzing their research. Purchasing hearing aids can clear away the connection between early death and hearing loss.
Wearing hearing aids helps you stay active, social, and healthier for a longer period.
Similar studies back these facts. One such study was carried out by the American Academy of Audiology. They found that when people with hearing loss use hearing aids regularly, they have:
- Stronger relationships with family
- Greater independence
- Enhanced social life outside the home
Untreated Hearing Loss Connected to Premature Death
The link between hearing loss and early death is a complex one. But when we integrate the wealth of data, an entire picture emerges. It demonstrates how hearing loss affects health, finances, relationships, and more. So it’s easy to see why the early demise link exists.
It’s also obvious that getting your hearing loss treated can reverse the impact of hearing loss on every aspect of life. You can continue to live an active, social and healthy life well into those advanced years.