How Your Hearing is Impacted by Your Weight

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

Everybody recognizes that exercising and keeping yourself in shape is good for your general health but you might not realize that losing weight is also good for your hearing.

Studies have demonstrated that exercising and eating healthy can strengthen your hearing and that people who are overweight have a higher possibility of experiencing hearing loss. It will be easier to make healthy hearing decisions for you and your whole family if you know about these associations.

Adult Hearing And Obesity

Women are more likely to experience 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 height and body fat 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 as much as 25 % more likely to have hearing loss!

Another reliable indicator of hearing impairment, in this study, was the size of a person’s waist. With women, as the waist size increases, the risk 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 on obese versus non-obese teenagers, carried out by Columbia University Medical Center, concluded that obese teenagers were twice as likely to experience hearing loss in one ear than teenagers who were not obese. Sensorineural hearing loss, which happens 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 noisy setting such as a classroom because it decreases the ability to hear lower frequencies.

Hearing loss in children is especially worrisome because kids frequently don’t recognize they have a hearing problem. There will be an increasing risk that the problem will get worse as they become an adult if it goes unaddressed.

What is The Connection?

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

The inner ear’s anatomy is very sensitive – consisting of a series of little capillaries, nerve cells, and other delicate parts that have to remain healthy to work effectively and in unison. 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 accepts sound waves and transmits nerve impulses to the brain so you can discern what you’re hearing. If the cochlea is damaged, it’s normally irreversible.

Is There Anything You Can do?

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

Beyond weight loss, 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, get together with your family members and develop a program to help them lose some of that weight. 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 enjoy them enough.

Consult a hearing professional to find out if any hearing loss you may be experiencing is related to your weight. Better hearing can be the result of weight loss and there’s help available. Your hearing specialist will identify your level of hearing loss and advise you on the best course of action. If needed, your primary care physician will suggest 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.