Most people understand that leading a sedentary lifestyle and smoking is bad for them. But what most people probably don’t know is that there is some compelling research that shows a link between premature death and untreated hearing loss.
Personal life expectancy varies widely, of course. 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 untreated hearing loss appear to die earlier.
Research Linking Premature Death to Hearing Loss
Norwegian scientists looked at the health data from over 50,000 people over a two-year period. The cases of death for all the individuals were cross-referenced with the data. They were able to connect an increased risk of early death to hearing loss irrespective of the cause of death.
The chance of cardiovascular death is greater for people who have hearing loss especially if they live alone and there is a 21% higher morbidity for people who suffer from even mild hearing loss, according to other studies.
Clarifying The Link
Any time scientists discover a link, they never presume that one is necessarily causing the other. Rather, they try to establish why the connection exists. How are the two really related?
In this same research it was revealed 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 impact on longevity.
Earlier research supports this presumption. Data from over half a million people was analyzed in a study published in the Journal of Epidemiology. It found that social seclusion increases the risk of early death significantly.
How Does Social Stability Increase Longevity?
Connecting socially with other people has numerous life-extending benefits much like a herd of elephants or a pack of wolves:
- Motivation… Having people around can motivate a person to get up, do new things and look forward to their day.
- Safety… If you need medical attention, you will be more likely to get it quickly if there are more people nearby.
- Mental stimulation… You’re engaging with others in conversation, jokes, sharing, and more.
- 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 risky on their own).
- Improved diet and health… Making it to doctor’s appointments is easier and healthy food is more immediately available for individuals who are active socially.
- Physical stimulation… You’re more likely to get up and do things if you have people around.
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. How could that be fixed by hearing loss?
Have you ever been with a group of strangers, who were ignoring you while chatting with each other? You likely felt very alone. You can begin to feel like this with neglected hearing loss. It’s not that people are ignoring you. Actually, as the hearing loss progresses, it gets more difficult to share a casual conversation with you.
You frequently miss parts of the conversation and that makes you feel out of the loop. This can very easily cause you to withdraw emotionally and physically, even at family get-togethers. The enjoyment of going to a restaurant or club with friends starts to fade away. You might find that you merely avoid these types of interactions. Here are some other concerns that individuals who have progressing hearing loss deal with.:
- Mental exhaustion
These make social contact even more challenging.
However, in their research, the Norwegian scientists offer a positive side. They reached a significant conclusion after evaluating their research. The link between premature death and hearing loss can be disrupted by wearing hearing aids.
Wearing hearing aids helps you stay active, social, and healthier for a longer period.
This fact can be reinforced by similar studies. The American Academy of Audiology performed one such study. That study revealed that using hearing aids consistently had the following benefits:
- Better relationships with family
- More independence
- Enhanced social life outside the home
Untreated Hearing Loss Linked to Early Death
The connection between hearing loss and early death is a complicated one. But when we combine the abundance of data, an entire picture emerges. The effect of hearing loss on health, relationships, and finances is revealed. So it’s easy to recognize why the early demise connection exists.
It’s also obvious that having your hearing loss treated can counter the impact of hearing loss on every aspect of life. You can continue to live an active, social and healthy life well into those older years.