How Your Weight Affects Your Hearing

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

Everyone knows that exercising and keeping yourself in shape is good for your general health but you may not know that losing weight is also good for your hearing.

Studies have established that exercising and eating healthy can improve your hearing and that people who are overweight have an increased possibility of developing 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

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). The connection between body fat and height is what BMI measures. The higher the number the higher the body fat. Of the 68,000 women who participated in the study, the degree of hearing loss increased as BMI increased. The heaviest individuals in the study had a 25% higher instance of hearing loss.

In this study, waist size also turned out to be a reliable indicator of hearing loss. With women, as the waist size gets bigger, the chance of hearing loss also increases. Lastly, participants who took part in regular physical activity had a decreased incidence of hearing loss.

Children’s Hearing And Obesity

A study by Columbia University’s Medical Center revealed that obese teenagers had about twice the risk of experiencing hearing loss in one ear than 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 difficult to hear what people are saying in a noisy setting like a classroom because it diminishes the ability to hear lower frequencies.

Hearing loss in children is particularly worrisome because kids frequently don’t realize they have a hearing issue. If the issue isn’t addressed, there is a danger the hearing loss might worsen when they become adults.

What is The Connection?

Researchers suspect that the connection between obesity and hearing loss and tinnitus is based on the health symptoms related to obesity. High blood pressure, poor circulation, and diabetes are all tied to hearing loss and are often caused by obesity.

The sensitive inner ear contains various delicate parts including nerve cells, little capillaries, and other parts which will quit working correctly if they aren’t kept healthy. It’s essential to have strong blood flow. This process can be hindered when obesity causes constricting of the blood vessels and high blood pressure.

The cochlea is a part of the inner ear that receives sound vibrations and transmits them to the brain for translation. The cochlea can be damaged if it doesn’t receive the proper blood flow. Injury to the cochlea and the adjoining nerve cells usually can’t be reversed.

Is There Anything You Can do?

Women in the Brigham and Women’s Hospital study who exercised the most had a 17 percent less chance of developing hearing loss in comparison with those who exercised least. Lessening your risk, however, doesn’t mean you need to be a marathon runner. Walking for two or more hours each week resulted in a 15% lower risk of hearing loss than walking for less than an hour.

Your entire family will benefit from a better diet, as your diet can positively affect your hearing beyond the advantages gained through weight loss. If you have a child or grandchild in your family who is obese, talk about steps your family can take to encourage a healthier lifestyle. You can incorporate this program into family get-togethers where you all will do exercises that are fun for kids. They might enjoy the exercises enough to do them on their own!

Consult a hearing professional to determine if any hearing loss you may be experiencing is associated with your weight. Better hearing can come from weight loss and there’s help available. This person can do a hearing exam to verify your suspicions and advise you on the measures needed to correct your hearing loss symptoms. A regimen of exercise and diet can be suggested by your primary care doctor if needed.

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.