How Your Weight Impacts Your Hearing

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

There are lots of health reasons to stay in shape, but did you know weight loss promotes better hearing?

Studies have established that exercising and healthy eating can reinforce your hearing and that individuals who are overweight have an increased chance of dealing with hearing loss. It will be easier to make healthy hearing choices for you and your whole family if you learn about these relationships.

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. BMI measures the relationship between body fat and height, with a higher number indicating higher 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 as much as 25 percent more likely to experience hearing loss!

In this study, waist size also turned out to be 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. And finally, incidents of hearing loss were decreased in people who engaged in frequent physical activity.

Children’s Hearing And Obesity

Research conducted by Columbia University’s Medical Center confirmed that obese teenagers had about twice the risk of experiencing 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 led to a decreased ability to hear sounds at low frequencies, which makes it hard to hear what people are saying in crowded settings, such as classrooms.

Children frequently don’t detect they have a hearing problem so when they have hearing loss it’s especially worrisome. If the issue isn’t addressed, there is a risk 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 linked to hearing loss.

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

Decreased blood flow can also damage the cochlea, which receives sound waves and transmits nerve impulses to the brain so you can discern what you’re hearing. If the cochlea is 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 lower chance of developing hearing loss compared to those who exercised least. You don’t need to run a marathon to lower your risk, however. The simple routine of walking for at least two hours every week can lower your risk of hearing loss by 15%.

Your entire family will benefit from eating better, as your diet can positively impact your hearing beyond the benefits gained from weight loss. If there is a child in your family who has some extra weight, talk with your family members and develop a routine to help them shed some pounds. You can work this program into family gatherings where you all will do exercises that are fun for kids. They might do the exercises on their own if they enjoy them enough.

If you believe you are experiencing hearing loss, talk to a hearing specialist to determine whether it is linked to your weight. Weight loss promotes better hearing and help is available. Your hearing specialist will determine your level of hearing loss and suggest the best strategy. A regimen 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. Schedule an appointment to see if hearing aids could benefit you.