You probably already recognize that smoking is bad for you and so are things like living a sedentary lifestyle. But did you know there is intriguing research suggesting a connection between untreated hearing loss and early death?
Individual life expectancy varies widely, of course. This variance can be connected 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, individuals with untreated hearing loss appear to die earlier.
Studies Linking Early Death to Hearing Loss
Norwegian researchers evaluated the health data from more than 50,000 individuals over a two-year period. The cases of death for all the people were cross-referenced with the data. They were able to connect a greater risk of early death to hearing loss regardless of the cause of death.
Other studies show that even moderate hearing loss is related to a 21% greater morbidity rate and that there’s an increased risk of cardiovascular death for people who have hearing loss, especially if they live alone.
Clarifying The Link
For researchers, just because they uncover a connection doesn’t mean that a causality is solidly established. Rather, they attempt to identify why the connection occurs. What’s the common connection?
In this same study it was revealed that there was a greater risk in women with no kids and men and women who are divorced. This seemingly unrelated element indicates that the decrease in life expectancy might be linked to social ties.
This presumption is supported by earlier studies. One study published in the Journal of Epidemiology evaluated the data from more than half a million participants. It discovered that social seclusion increases the danger of early death substantially.
How is Longevity Increased by Social Stability?
Having relationships socially with other people has many life-extending benefits much like a herd of elephants or a pack of wolves:
- Mental stimulation… You’re participating with people in conversation, jokes, sharing, and more.
- Improved diet and health… Making it to doctor’s appointments is easier and healthy food is more readily available for individuals who are active socially.
- Motivation… Having people around can motivate a person to get up, do new things and look forward to their day.
- Physical stimulation… If you have people around you, you’re more likely to engage in physical exercise.
- Support… Someone with a strong social group is more likely to ask for assistance if they require it (instead of attempting to do something dangerous by themselves).
- Safety… When there are more people around, there’s a greater chance you’ll get medical attention immediately if needed.
What is it about untreated hearing loss that takes all of this away?
How Hearing Loss Contributes to Social Separation And Decreased Longevity
You most likely have a very close relationship with your loved ones. It’s difficult to imagine how hearing loss may change that.
Have you ever been in a room full of people you don’t know enjoying the company of each other, but ignoring you? You probably felt very alone. This is what untreated hearing loss can begin to feel like. It’s not that people are ignoring you. Actually, as the hearing loss develops, it becomes more difficult to have a casual conversation with you.
On your side of things, you often feel out of the loop because you lose parts of the conversation. This can quickly make you withdraw physically and emotionally, even at family gatherings. The appeal of going to a club or restaurant with friends starts to fade away. You may find that you simply avoid these kinds of interactions. Here are some other challenges that people who have progressing hearing loss cope with.:
- Mental exhaustion
These make social interactions even more difficult.
However, in their research, the Norwegian scientists offer a silver lining. They reached a significant conclusion after examining their research. Investing in hearing aids can eliminate the link between early death and hearing loss.
Wearing hearing aids helps you remain active, social, and healthier for a longer period.
This fact can be backed by similar research. One such study was performed by the American Academy of Audiology. That study revealed that wearing hearing aids consistently had the following benefits:
- Improved social life outside the home
- Greater independence
- Better relationships with family
Early Death Linked to Untreated Hearing Loss
Early death and hearing loss have a complicated connection. But when we integrate the wealth of data, a whole picture emerges. It reveals how hearing loss impacts finances, health, relationships, and more. So the premature death connection isn’t difficult to understand.
It’s also evident that having 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 older years.