You probably already know that smoking isn’t good for you and neither are things like living a sedentary lifestyle. But what most people probably don’t know is that there is some convincing research that indicates a link between premature death and untreated hearing loss.
Personal life expectancy varies widely, of course. Access to healthcare, where you live, gender, type of work, and access to healthy food can all be factors in this variance. But people who suffer from neglected hearing loss appear to die earlier even when you take these differences into account.
Studies Connecting Early Death to Hearing Loss
Over a two year period, stats from over 50,000 individuals was examined by Norwegian researchers. The cases of death for all the individuals were cross-referenced with the data. They could connect a greater chance of premature death to hearing loss irrespective of the cause of death.
Other studies show that even moderate hearing loss is associated with a 21% greater morbidity rate and that there’s an increased danger of cardiovascular death for people with hearing loss, especially if they live by themselves.
Clarifying The Connection
When scientists find a link, they never assume that one is necessarily causing the other. Instead, they attempt to establish why the connection occurs. What’s the common thread?
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 seemingly unrelated factor indicates that the decrease in life expectancy might be connected to social ties.
Earlier research supports this presumption. One study published in the Journal of Epidemiology examined the data from more than half a million participants. It found that social isolation raises the risk of early death significantly.
How is Longevity Increased by Social Stability?
Having relationships socially with other people has numerous life-extending benefits much like a herd of elephants or a pack of wolves:
- Improved diet and health… Making it to doctor’s appointments is easier and healthy food is more immediately available for individuals who are socially active.
- Physical stimulation… You’re more likely to get up and do things if you have people around.
- 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 robust social network is more likely to try to do something risky instead of seeking help.
- Mental stimulation… You’re sharing, joking and conversing with people.
- Motivation… Having people around can motivate a person to get up, do new things and look forward to their day.
Why does untreated hearing loss stop social participation?
How Hearing Loss Plays A Role in Social Separation 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 each other’s company, but ignoring you? You likely felt very alone. You can start to feel like this with untreated hearing loss. People aren’t necessarily ignoring you. Actually, as the hearing loss progresses, it becomes more difficult to share a casual conversation with you.
From your perspective, you often feel out of the loop because you lose parts of the conversation. Emotional and physical withdrawal, even at family events, can be the result. Going out with friends to a restaurant and participating in a social club, event or hobby loses its enjoyment. You might find that you simply avoid these types 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 researchers offer a positive side. After analyzing their research, they came to a significant conclusion. The connection between early death and hearing loss can be disrupted by wearing hearing aids.
Using hearing aids helps you remain active, social, and healthier for a longer period.
Similar studies back these facts. The American Academy of Audiology conducted one such study. That study revealed that wearing hearing aids consistently had the following benefits:
- Stronger relationships with family
- Improved social life outside the home
- More independence
Premature Death Linked to Untreated Hearing Loss
The connection between hearing loss and premature death is a complicated one. But an overall picture appears when all of the data is taken into account. The effect of hearing loss on relationships, health, and finances is revealed. So the early death connection isn’t difficult to comprehend.
It’s also obvious that having your hearing loss treated can reverse the effects of hearing loss on each aspect of life. You will live a longer, socially active and healthier life.