Feeling lonely is associated with an increased risk of experiencing health problems, researchers have said.

A new study has found that people who experience loneliness are 29% more at risk of developing heart disease and 32% more likely to have a stroke.

In addition, older adults who are affected by loneliness are 50% more likely to develop dementia compared to those who rarely feel lonely, the researchers have revealed.

Depression and other mental health conditions are also more common in those who experience loneliness, prior studies have reported.

Individuals who experience temporary loneliness are more likely to experience general fatigue, nausea and headaches, according to the results.

During the study, the team of scientists looked at the data of more than 1,500 adults between the ages of 35 and 65 in the National Study of Daily Experiences (NSDE).

Each participant was interviewed over the telephone for eight days to allow the academics to assess their daily stress and mood.

The researchers discovered that the participants experienced less severe physical health complications on the days they did not feel lonely.

Senior author Professor David Almeida said: “These findings suggest that day-to-day dynamics of loneliness may be crucial in understanding and addressing the health effects of loneliness.

“Increasing feelings of social connection even for one day could result in fewer health symptoms on that day.”

He added: “Such a daily focus offers a manageable and hopeful micro-intervention for individuals living with loneliness.”

Fellow author Dakota Witzel said: “The results suggest that closer attention should be paid to daily, more temporary feelings of loneliness.

“A lot of research is focused on loneliness being a binary trait – either you’re lonely or you’re not. But based on our own anecdotal lives, we know that’s not the case.

“Some days are worse than others – even some hours. If we can understand variations in daily loneliness, we can begin to understand how it affects our daily and long-term health.”

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