Most people recognize 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.
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.
Research Connecting Premature Death to Hearing Loss
Norwegian scientists looked at the health data from more than 50,000 individuals over a two-year period. They cross-referenced that data with the causes of death for the studied individuals. They were able to link a greater risk of premature death to hearing loss irrespective of the cause of death.
The chance of cardiovascular death is greater for individuals who have hearing loss particularly if they live by themselves and there is a 21% higher morbidity for people who suffer from even moderate hearing loss, according to other research.
Clarifying The Link
For scientists, just because they uncover a connection doesn’t mean that a causality is solidly demonstrated. Rather, they attempt to determine why the connection occurs. What’s the common connection?
The Norwegian study also showed that men and women who were divorced and women who did not have kids were also at higher risk. This seemingly unrelated element suggests that the decrease in life expectancy might be connected to social ties.
Previous studies support this presumption. Data from over half a million participants was examined in a study published in the Journal of Epidemiology. It revealed that social seclusion increases the danger of early death considerably.
How is Longevity Increased by Social Stability?
Having relationships socially with other people has many life-extending advantages much like a herd of elephants or a pack of wolves:
- Support… A person with a robust social network is more likely to ask for help if they need it (instead of attempting to do something dangerous by themselves).
- Motivation… Getting up in the morning, trying new things, and looking forward to their day can be powerfully motivated by having others around.
- Physical stimulation… You’re more likely to get up and do things if you have people around.
- Improved diet and health… Socially connected people usually have better access to healthy food and can make it to doctor’s appointments.
- Mental stimulation… You’re participating with others in conversation, jokes, sharing, and more.
- Safety… If you require medical attention, you will be more likely to get it quickly if there are more people around.
What is it about neglected hearing loss that takes all of this away?
How Hearing Loss Plays A Role in Social Isolation 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 with a group of people you don’t know, who were ignoring you while talking to each other? 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 gets more difficult to have a casual conversation with you.
From your perspective, you frequently feel out of the loop because you lose parts of the conversation. Physical and emotional withdrawal, even at family gatherings, can be the outcome. The appeal of going to a restaurant or club with friends starts to fade away. You may find that you merely avoid these types of interactions. In addition, many people experiencing worsening hearing loss have:
- Mental exhaustion
These make social contact even more challenging.
However, in their research, the Norwegian scientists offer a silver lining. After analyzing their research, they came to an important conclusion. The connection between early death and hearing loss can be broken by wearing hearing aids.
Using hearing aids helps you stay active, social, and healthier for a longer period.
Comparable studies support these facts. The American Academy of Audiology conducted one such study. That study revealed that wearing hearing aids regularly had the following benefits:
- Stronger relationships with family
- Enhanced social life outside the home
- Greater independence
Untreated Hearing Loss Linked to Premature Death
The link between hearing loss and early death is a complex one. But an entire picture appears when all of the data is taken into account. It reveals how hearing loss impacts finances, health, relationships, and more. So the early death connection isn’t hard to understand.
These studies also make it clear that treating hearing loss can counter its detrimental effects. You can continue to live an active, social and healthy life well into those advanced years.
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