The study reveals that individuals who experience social isolation have a 32 percent higher risk of premature death than those who are not socially isolated.

The Association Between Social Isolation, Loneliness, Hearing Loss, and Increased Risk of Mortality

09/18/2023 | Hearing Loss, Patient Resources

CNN Health recently published an article that references a study with some shocking insights. The study reveals that individuals who experience social isolation have a 32 percent higher risk of premature death than those who are not socially isolated. The study also shows that people who experience loneliness are 14 percent more likely to die early than those who don’t experience prolonged loneliness.

These are rather alarming statements, aren’t they?

Based on a comprehensive meta-analysis that examined 90 studies and involved over two million adults, the study provides compelling evidence linking loneliness and social isolation to a risk of serious health outcomes, including premature death.

Upon reading through this study, I instantly thought about the connection between hearing loss and loneliness and social isolation.

When left untreated, hearing loss can lead to mental and physical health issues. And this is why it’s so important to treat hearing loss as soon as you first begin to experience symptoms.

People who experience hearing loss will often isolate themselves socially when communicating with others becomes difficult. And this is understandable—it’s no fun to have to ask others to repeat themselves over and over. When you feel alone in a crowded room and struggle to follow and be a part of the conversations around you, you may feel stressed, frustrated, and anxious. It might feel easier to shut down and stay home when even a simple trip to the grocery store can cause embarrassment and emotional distress.

The study confirms that loneliness and isolation can have long-term negative effects on your health. Over time, loneliness begins to act as a chronic stressor on your body. And chronic stress causes stress hormones to be released. This can be a contributing factor for disease.

The information gleaned from this study should be a wake-up call for public health policymakers and healthcare professionals. The mental health crisis is very much a real thing, and changes must be implemented to fight it.

The study is also a valuable reminder that you should never put off treating hearing loss. Hearing loss usually worsens gradually over time, and once your hearing is gone, you can’t get it back. Just as you prioritize getting your vision checked or seeing your primary care physician for an annual physical exam, you should get your hearing checked regularly. And if you notice yourself straining to hear in social situations or turning up the volume on the TV louder than you normally need to, see your hearing care professional right away. Delaying treatment only harms you in the long run.

I’m passionate about this subject because I’ve seen firsthand how cases of untreated hearing loss can cause people to isolate themselves from others. I’ve seen the negative impact this has had on my patients’ lives. The good news is that, with the proper care and treatment, we can mitigate the potentially dangerous side effects of hearing loss and help you achieve a better quality of life.

If you or a loved one is experiencing hearing loss, make an appointment with a hearing care professional today. And if you know someone who is dealing with hearing loss and beginning to self-isolate, encourage them to get their hearing loss treated immediately before their situation gets worse.

If you’re ready to take the next step in your journey to better hearing health or if you have any questions that our team may be able to answer, you can give our office a call at (907) 522-4357, or request a callback and a member of our team will get back to you.

We look forward to hearing from you soon!

Alarming risks associated with hearing loss

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Dr. Emily E McMahan

Dr. McMahan attended the University of Cincinnati where she received her Bachelor of Science degree in Communication Sciences and Disorders in 2009. She furthered her professional education by obtaining her Doctorate of Audiology from Salus University in Philadelphia in 2013. She completed her residency in Anchorage and has been applying her expertise to her patients in the Pacific Northwest for several years. Whether you need hearing testing, hearing aids, or assistance with managing tinnitus in your daily lives, Dr. McMahan is qualified to assist you!

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