How Your Hearing is Impacted by Your Weight

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There are lots of health reasons to keep in shape, but did you know weight loss supports improved hearing?

Research reveals children and adults who are overweight are more likely to experience hearing loss and that eating healthy and exercising can help strengthen your hearing. Understanding more about these connections can help you make healthy hearing choices for you and your family.

Obesity And Adult Hearing

Women are more likely to experience hearing loss, according to research done by Brigham And Women’s Hospital, if they have a high body mass index (BMI). The relationship between height and body fat is what BMI measures. The higher the number the higher the body fat. The higher the BMI of the 68,000 women in the study, the higher their hearing loss incidence. The participants who were the most overweight were up to 25 percent more likely to experience hearing impairment!

Another reliable indicator of hearing impairment, in this study, was waist size. With women, as the waist size increases, the chance of hearing loss also increases. As a final point, participants who took part in regular physical activity had a lower incidence of hearing loss.

Children’s Hearing And Obesity

A study by Columbia University’s Medical Center revealed that obese teenagers had nearly twice the risk of experiencing hearing loss in one ear when compared to non-obese teenagers. Sensorineural hearing loss, which occurs when the sensitive hair cells in the inner ear are damaged, was common in these children. This damage makes it difficult to hear what people are saying in a noisy setting such as a classroom because it decreases the ability to hear lower frequencies.

Children often don’t notice they have a hearing issue so when they have hearing loss it’s especially worrisome. There will be an increasing risk that the issue will get worse as they become an adult if it’s not treated.

What is The Connection?

Researchers surmise that the association between obesity and hearing loss and tinnitus lies in the health symptoms related to obesity. High blood pressure, poor circulation, and diabetes are some of the health problems related to obesity and linked to hearing loss.

The inner ear’s anatomy is very sensitive – consisting of a series of little capillaries, nerve cells, and other fragile parts that have to stay healthy to work correctly and in unison. It’s crucial to have strong blood flow. High blood pressure and the constricting of blood vessels brought about by obesity can hamper this process.

The cochlea is a part of the inner ear which receives sound vibrations and transmits them to the brain for translation. The cochlea can be damaged if it doesn’t receive adequate blood flow. Damage to the cochlea and the adjoining nerve cells usually can’t be reversed.

What Should You do?

Women who stayed healthy and exercised regularly, according to a Brigham and Women’s Hospital study, had a 17% lowered likelihood of getting hearing loss versus women who didn’t. Reducing your risk, however, doesn’t mean you need to be a marathon runner. Walking for a couple of hours per week resulted in a 15% reduced risk of hearing loss than walking for less than an hour.

Beyond weight loss, a better diet will, of itself, improve your hearing which will benefit your entire family. If you have a child or grandchild in your family who is overweight, talk about steps your family can take to promote a healthier lifestyle. You can work this program into family get-togethers where you all will do exercises that are fun for kids. They may do the exercises on their own if they like them enough.

If you suspect you are experiencing hearing loss, speak with a hearing specialist to discover whether it is linked to your weight. Better hearing can be the result of weight loss and there’s help available. Your hearing professional will determine your level of hearing loss and advise you on the best strategy. A program of exercise and diet can be suggested by your primary care physician if necessary.

The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.