How Your Hearing is Impacted by Your Weight

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

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

Studies have demonstrated that exercising and healthy eating can improve your hearing and that people who are overweight have an increased risk of suffering from hearing loss. It will be easier to make healthy hearing decisions for you and your whole family if you understand these relationships.

Obesity And Adult Hearing

Women had a higher risk of developing hearing loss, according to research carried out by Brigham And Women’s Hospital, if they have a high body mass index (BMI). 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 incidence. The participants who were the most overweight were up to 25 percent more likely to have hearing impairment!

Another dependable indicator of hearing impairment, in this study, was waist size. Women with larger waist sizes had a higher chance of hearing loss, and the risk increased as waist sizes increased. And finally, incidents of hearing loss were lower in people who took part in frequent physical activity.

Children’s Hearing And Obesity

Research conducted by Columbia University’s Medical Center demonstrated that obese teenagers had nearly twice the risk of developing hearing loss in one ear when compared to non-obese teenagers. These children suffered sensorineural hearing loss, which is a result of damage to sensitive hair cells in the inner ear that convey sound. This damage makes it difficult to hear what people are saying in a noisy setting like a classroom because it diminishes the ability to hear lower frequencies.

Children often don’t notice they have a hearing problem so when they have hearing loss it’s especially worrisome. If the problem isn’t dealt with, there is a possibility the hearing loss may get worse when they become adults.

What is The Connection?

Obesity is associated with several health issues and researchers believe that its connection with hearing loss and tinnitus lies with these health problems. Poor circulation, diabetes, and high blood pressure are all tied to hearing loss and are frequently caused by obesity.

The inner ear’s anatomy is very sensitive – composed of a series of small capillaries, nerve cells, and other fragile parts that must stay healthy to work correctly and in unison. Good blood flow is crucial. 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 accepts vibrations and transmits nerve impulses to the brain so you can discern what you’re hearing. If the cochlea is damaged, it’s usually irreversible.

Is There Anything You Can do?

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

Beyond losing weight, a better diet will, of itself, improve 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 develop a program to help them shed some pounds. You can work this program into family get-togethers where you all will do exercises that are fun for kids. They might do the exercises on their own if they like them enough.

Talk to a hearing specialist to figure out if any hearing loss you might be experiencing is related to your weight. Better hearing can come from weight loss and there’s help available. Your hearing professional will identify your level of hearing loss and advise you on the best strategy. If necessary, your primary care doctor will suggest a diet and exercise program 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.