How Your Hearing is Impacted by Your Weight

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

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

Studies have demonstrated that exercising and healthy eating can strengthen your hearing and that individuals who are overweight have a higher possibility of dealing with hearing loss. Understanding more about these connections can help you make healthy hearing decisions for you and your family.

Obesity And Adult Hearing

A Brigham and Women’s Hospital’s study demonstrated women with a high body mass index (BMI) were at an increased danger of experiencing hearing loss. The relationship between height and body fat is what BMI measures. The higher the number the higher the body fat. Of the 68,000 women who participated in the study, the level of hearing loss increased as BMI increased. The participants who were the most overweight were up to 25 % more likely to have hearing loss!

Another dependable indicator of hearing impairment, in this study, was the size of a person’s waist. With women, as the waist size increases, the chance of hearing loss also increases. Lastly, participants who took part in regular physical activity had a reduced incidence of hearing loss.

Obesity And Children’s Hearing

Research conducted by Columbia University’s Medical Center demonstrated that obese teenagers had about double the risk of developing hearing loss in one ear when compared to non-obese teenagers. These children experienced sensorineural hearing loss, which is caused by damage to sensitive hair cells in the inner ear that carry sound. This damage resulted in a decreased ability to hear sounds at low frequencies, which makes it difficult to hear what people are saying in crowded settings, 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 dealt with, there is a danger the hearing loss might worsen when they become adults.

What is The Connection?

Obesity is associated with several health issues and researchers suspect that its connection with hearing loss and tinnitus lies with these health problems. High blood pressure, diabetes, and poor circulation are some of the health issues related to obesity and tied to hearing loss.

The inner ear’s anatomy is very sensitive – comprised of a series of small capillaries, nerve cells, and other delicate parts that must remain 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.

Decreased blood flow can also damage the cochlea, which receives vibrations and sends nerve impulses to the brain so you can distinguish what you’re hearing. If the cochlea gets damaged, it’s normally irreversible.

What Should You do?

Women in the Brigham and Women’s Hospital study who exercised the most had a 17 percent decreased risk of experiencing hearing loss versus those who exercised least. You don’t need to run a marathon to reduce your risk, however. Walking for two or more hours each week resulted in a 15 percent lower risk of hearing loss than walking for under an hour.

Beyond losing weight, a better diet will, of itself, help your hearing which will benefit your entire family. If there is a child in your family who has some extra weight, talk with your family members and put together a program to help them lose some of that weight. You can show them exercises that are fun for children and incorporate them into family gatherings. They may do the exercises on their own if they enjoy them enough.

If you believe you are experiencing hearing loss, consult a hearing professional to determine whether it is linked to your weight. Better hearing can be the result of weight loss and there’s help available. Your hearing specialist will determine your level of hearing loss and advise you on the best course of action. If necessary, your primary care physician 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.