You likely already recognize that smoking is bad for you and so are things like living a sedentary lifestyle. But what most people probably don’t realize is that there is some convincing research that shows a connection between premature 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, people with untreated hearing loss seem to die earlier.
Studies Connecting Premature Death to Hearing Loss
Over a two year period, data from more than 50,000 people was evaluated by Norwegian researchers. They cross-referenced that data with the causes of death for the examined people. Whatever the cause, premature death could be linked to neglected hearing loss.
The chance of cardiovascular death is increased for those with 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 Connection
Any time scientists find a link, they never presume that one is necessarily producing the other. Rather, they attempt to determine why the connection occurs. How are the two really related?
In this same study it was revealed that there was an increased risk in women with no kids and women and men who are divorced. This seemingly unrelated factor indicates that the decrease in life expectancy may be related to social ties.
This assumption is supported by previous studies. Data from over half a million participants was assessed in a study published in the Journal of Epidemiology. It found that social solitude increases the risk of early death considerably.
How Does Social Stability Increase Longevity?
Not unlike a pack of wolves or a herd of elephants in the wild, social relationships offer numerous life-extending advantages to humans:
- Physical stimulation… You’re more likely to get up and do things if you have people around.
- Motivation… Having people around can encourage a person to get up in the morning, try new things and look forward to their day.
- 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.
- Mental stimulation… You’re engaging with others in conversation, jokes, sharing, and more.
- Safety… When there are more people around, there’s a greater chance you’ll receive medical attention immediately if needed.
- Support… A person who doesn’t have a strong social network is more likely to attempt to do something risky instead of asking for help.
What is it about untreated hearing loss that takes all of this away?
How Hearing Loss Can Leads to Social Isolation 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 in a room full of strangers enjoying each other’s company, but paying no attention to you? It was probably a lonely feeling. You can start to feel like this with neglected hearing loss. People aren’t necessarily ignoring you. Actually, as the hearing loss develops, it gets more difficult to share a casual conversation with you.
On your side of things, you frequently feel out of the loop because you lose parts of the conversation. This can very easily cause you to withdraw emotionally and physically, even at family get-togethers. The appeal of going to a restaurant or club with friends begins to fade away. You might find that you merely avoid these kinds of interactions. Additionally, many people experiencing worsening hearing loss have:
- Mental exhaustion
Social interactions become even more difficult because of these.
However, in their research, the Norwegian scientists offer a silver lining. They reached a significant conclusion after evaluating their research. The connection between early death and hearing loss can be broken by wearing hearing aids.
Wearing hearing aids helps you stay active, social, and healthier for a longer period.
Similar studies back these facts. The American Academy of Audiology performed one such study. That study revealed that using hearing aids regularly had the following benefits:
- More independence
- Improved social life outside the home
- Better relationships with family
Neglected Hearing Loss Linked to Premature Death
Early death and hearing loss have a complex connection. But an entire picture appears when all of the data is considered. The impact of hearing loss on health, relationships, and finances is unveiled. So it’s easy to recognize why the premature demise connection exists.
It’s also evident that getting your hearing loss treated can reverse the impact of hearing loss on every part of life. You can keep living an active, social and healthy life well into those advanced years.