How Your Weight Affects Your Hearing

Woman weighing herself and realizing her weight affects her hearing health.

Everyone recognizes that exercising and keeping yourself in shape is good for your overall health but you might not realize that losing weight is also good for your hearing.

Research indicates children and adults who are overweight are more likely to experience hearing loss and that healthy eating and exercising can help fortify your hearing. It will be easier to make healthy hearing decisions for you and your whole family if you know about these associations.

Obesity And Adult Hearing

A Brigham and Women’s Hospital’s study revealed women with a high body mass index (BMI) were at an increased danger of experiencing hearing loss. The connection between body fat and height 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 frequency. The participants who were the most overweight were up to 25 % more likely to have hearing loss!

Another reliable indicator of hearing impairment, in this study, was the size of a person’s waist. Women with larger waist sizes had a higher risk of hearing loss, and the risk got higher as waist sizes increased. Lastly, participants who took part in frequent physical activity had a lower incidence of hearing loss.

Children’s Hearing And Obesity

A study on obese versus non-obese teenagers, performed by Columbia University Medical Center, concluded that obese teenagers were twice as likely to experience hearing loss in one ear than teenagers who were not obese. These children experienced sensorineural hearing loss, which is caused by damage to sensitive hair cells in the inner ear that convey sound. This damage resulted in a diminished ability to hear sounds at low frequencies, which makes it difficult to understand what people are saying in crowded places, like classrooms.

Children usually don’t detect they have a hearing issue so when they have hearing loss it’s particularly worrisome. If the issue isn’t addressed, there is a possibility the hearing loss might worsen when they become adults.

What is The Connection?

Researchers think that the connection between obesity and hearing loss and tinnitus is based on the health symptoms linked to obesity. Poor circulation, diabetes, and high blood pressure are some of the health issues caused by obesity and tied to hearing loss.

The sensitive inner ear contains numerous delicate parts such as nerve cells, little capillaries, and other parts that will stop working properly if they aren’t kept healthy. It’s crucial to have strong blood flow. High blood pressure and the constricting of blood vessels brought about by obesity can obstruct this process.

The cochlea is a part of the inner ear that receives sound vibrations and transmits them to the brain for translation. The cochlea can be damaged if it doesn’t receive optimal blood flow. If the cochlea gets damaged, it’s normally permanent.

What Should You do?

Women in the Brigham and Women’s Hospital study who exercised the most had a 17 percent less chance of developing hearing loss versus those who exercised least. You don’t need to run a marathon to lower your risk, however. Walking for a couple of hours each 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, help 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 incorporate this program into family get-togethers where you all will do exercises that are fun for kids. They might enjoy the exercises enough to do them on their own!

If you think you are experiencing hearing loss, talk to a hearing professional to determine whether it is linked to your weight. Weight loss promotes better hearing and help is available. This individual can perform a hearing exam to confirm your suspicions and advise you on the measures needed to deal with your hearing loss symptoms. If necessary, your primary care doctor will recommend a diet and exercise routine that best suit your personal needs.

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.

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