How Your Hearing is Affected by Your Weight

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

Everybody knows that exercising and keeping yourself in shape is good for your general health but you might not realize that losing weight is also good for your hearing.

Studies have established that exercising and healthy eating can reinforce your hearing and that individuals who are overweight have an increased possibility of dealing with hearing loss. 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

Women are more likely to experience hearing loss, according to a study carried out 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 impairment incidence. The heaviest people in the study had a 25% greater instance of hearing loss.

In this study, waist size also ended up being a reliable indicator of hearing loss. Women with bigger waist sizes had a higher risk of hearing loss, and the risk increased as waist sizes increased. Lastly, participants who took part in regular physical activity had a reduced 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 develop hearing loss in one ear than teenagers who were not obese. Sensorineural hearing loss, which occurs when the delicate hair cells in the inner ear are damaged, was common in these children. This damage led to a decreased ability to hear sounds at low frequencies, which makes it difficult to hear what people are saying in crowded places, like classrooms.

Hearing loss in children is especially worrisome because kids often don’t recognize they have a hearing issue. If the problem isn’t addressed, there is a danger the hearing loss could get worse when they become adults.

What is The Connection?

Obesity is associated with several health problems and researchers think that its connection with hearing loss and tinnitus lies with these health issues. Poor circulation, diabetes, and high blood pressure are some of the health issues caused by obesity and linked to hearing loss.

The sensitive inner ear is made up of various delicate parts such as nerve cells, little capillaries, and other parts which will quit working correctly if they are not kept healthy. Good blood flow is crucial. High blood pressure and the constricting of blood vessels brought about by obesity can impede this process.

Reduced blood flow can also damage the cochlea, which accepts sound waves and transmits nerve impulses to the brain so you can distinguish what you’re hearing. If the cochlea gets damaged, it’s usually irreversible.

What Should You do?

Women in the Brigham and Women’s Hospital study who exercised the most had a 17 percent less chance of experiencing hearing loss compared to those who exercised least. You don’t have to run a marathon to decrease your risk, however. The simple act of walking for at least two hours each week can decrease your risk of hearing loss by 15%.

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 obese, discuss steps your family can take to encourage a healthier lifestyle. You can work this routine into family gatherings where you all will do exercises that are fun for kids. They might like the exercises so much they will do them on their own!

Talk to a hearing professional to determine if any hearing loss you might be experiencing is related to your weight. Weight loss stimulates better hearing and help is available. Your hearing professional will identify your level of hearing loss and suggest the best strategy. If necessary, your primary care physician will suggest a diet and exercise routine that best suit your individual needs.

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