How Your Weight Impacts 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 know 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 support your hearing. Learning more about these relationships can help you make healthy hearing decisions for you and your family.

Obesity And Adult Hearing

Women had a higher risk of developing hearing loss, according to research done by Brigham And Women’s Hospital, if they have a high body mass index (BMI). BMI assesses the connection between height and body fat, with a higher number indicating higher body fat. Of the 68,000 women who took part in the study, the level of hearing loss increased as BMI increased. The heaviest people in the study had a 25% higher instance of hearing loss.

In this study, waist size also ended up being a dependable indicator of hearing impairment. With women, as the waist size increases, the chance of hearing loss also increases. And finally, incidents of hearing loss were decreased in people who engaged in frequent physical activity.

Obesity And Children’s Hearing

A study by Columbia University’s Medical Center confirmed that obese teenagers had about double the risk of developing 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 hard to hear what people are saying in a loud setting like a classroom because it diminishes the ability to hear lower frequencies.

Children often don’t recognize they have a hearing problem so when they have hearing loss it’s especially worrisome. There will be an increasing risk that the problem 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 tied to hearing loss.

The inner ear’s anatomy is very sensitive – comprised of a series of small capillaries, nerve cells, and other fragile parts that have to remain healthy to work properly and in unison. Good blood flow is crucial. High blood pressure and the constricting of blood vessels caused by obesity can impede this process.

Decreased blood flow can also damage the cochlea, which receives sound waves and sends nerve impulses to the brain so you can recognize what you’re hearing. 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 decreased risk of experiencing hearing loss in comparison with those who exercised least. You don’t have to run a marathon to reduce your risk, however. The simple routine of walking for at least two hours per week can reduce your chance of hearing loss by 15%.

Your whole family will benefit from eating better, as your diet can positively impact your hearing beyond the advantages gained from weight loss. 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 incorporate this routine into family get-togethers where you all will do exercises that are fun for kids. They may enjoy the exercises enough to do them on their own!

If you believe you are experiencing hearing loss, speak with a hearing professional to determine whether it is linked to your weight. Weight loss stimulates better hearing and help is available. This individual can perform a hearing exam to verify your suspicions and advise you on the steps necessary to correct your hearing loss symptoms. If necessary, your primary care doctor will recommend a diet and exercise routine that best suit your individual 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.