How Your Weight Affects 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.

Studies have demonstrated that exercising and eating healthy can strengthen your hearing and that individuals who are overweight have an increased chance of experiencing hearing loss. Understanding more about these connections can help you make healthy hearing choices for you and your family.

Obesity And Adult Hearing

A Brigham and Women’s Hospital’s study showed that women with a high body mass index (BMI) were at an increased risk of having hearing loss. The relationship 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 loss!

Another dependable indicator of hearing loss, in this study, was waist size. With women, as the waist size gets bigger, the chance of hearing loss also increases. Lastly, participants who engaged in regular physical activity had a reduced incidence of hearing loss.

Children’s Hearing And Obesity

Research conducted by Columbia University’s Medical Center revealed that obese teenagers had nearly twice the risk of developing hearing loss in one ear than non-obese teenagers. These children suffered sensorineural hearing loss, which is caused by damage to sensitive hair cells in the inner ear that carry sound. This damage resulted in a diminished ability to hear sounds at low frequencies, which makes it difficult to hear what people are saying in crowded settings, such as classrooms.

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

What is The Connection?

Researchers think that the association between obesity and hearing loss and tinnitus is based on the health symptoms related to obesity. Poor circulation, diabetes, and high blood pressure are all tied to hearing loss and are often the result of obesity.

The inner ear’s anatomy is very sensitive – comprised of a series of little capillaries, nerve cells, and other delicate parts that must stay healthy to work properly and in unison. Good blood flow is crucial. High blood pressure and the constricting of blood vessels brought about by obesity can impede 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. Damage to the cochlea and the adjoining nerve cells can rarely be undone.

Is There Anything You Can do?

Women who remained healthy and exercised regularly, according to a Brigham and Women’s Hospital study, had a 17% lowered likelihood of getting hearing loss compared to women who didn’t. You don’t have to run a marathon to lower 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 entire family will benefit from eating better, as your diet can positively impact your hearing beyond the benefits gained from weight loss. If you have a child or grandchild in your family who is obese, discuss steps your family can take to promote a healthier lifestyle. You can show them exercises that are enjoyable for kids and incorporate them into family gatherings. They might do the exercises on their own if they enjoy them enough.

If you believe you are experiencing hearing loss, speak with a hearing specialist to determine whether it is linked to your weight. Better hearing can come from weight loss and there’s help available. This person can conduct a hearing exam to confirm your suspicions and advise you on the measures needed to correct your hearing loss symptoms. A program of exercise and diet can be suggested by your primary care physician 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.