How Your Weight Affects Your Hearing

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There are lots of health reasons to stay in shape, but did you know weight loss promotes improved hearing?

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

Obesity And Adult Hearing

Women had a higher risk of developing hearing loss, according to a study done by Brigham And Women’s Hospital, if they have a high body mass index (BMI). 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 impairment frequency. The heaviest people in the study had a 25% greater instance of hearing loss.

Another dependable indicator of hearing impairment, in this study, was the size of a person’s waist. Women with larger waist sizes had a higher risk of hearing loss, and the risk increased as waist sizes increased. And finally, incidents of hearing loss were decreased in people who engaged in regular physical activity.

Children’s Hearing And Obesity

Research conducted by Columbia University’s Medical Center revealed that obese teenagers had about double the risk of experiencing hearing loss in one ear than non-obese teenagers. These children suffered sensorineural hearing loss, which is a result of damage to sensitive hair cells in the inner ear that carry sound. This damage makes it difficult to hear what people are saying in a loud setting such as a classroom because it diminishes the ability to hear lower frequencies.

Hearing loss in children is especially worrisome because kids often don’t realize they have a hearing issue. If the issue isn’t dealt with, there is a risk the hearing loss could worsen when they become adults.

What is The Connection?

Researchers suspect that the association between obesity and hearing loss and tinnitus lies in the health symptoms related to obesity. Poor circulation, diabetes, and high blood pressure are some of the health issues related to obesity and tied to hearing loss.

The inner ear’s workings are very sensitive – composed of a series of little capillaries, nerve cells, and other fragile parts that need to remain healthy to work properly and in unison. It’s essential to have strong blood flow. This process can be hampered when obesity causes constricting of the blood vessels and high blood pressure.

The cochlea is a part of the inner ear which receives sound vibrations and transmits them to the brain for interpretation. The cochlea can be harmed if it doesn’t get the proper blood flow. Damage to the cochlea and the surrounding nerve cells usually can’t be reversed.

What Should You do?

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

Beyond losing weight, a better diet will, of itself, improve your hearing which will benefit your whole family. If you have a child or grandchild in your family who is obese, discuss steps your family can take to encourage a healthier lifestyle. You can teach them exercises that are fun for children and incorporate them into family get-togethers. They may do the exercises on their own if they like them enough.

If you suspect you are experiencing hearing loss, speak with a hearing specialist to discover whether it is linked to your weight. Better hearing can be the result of weight loss and there’s help available. Your hearing professional will determine your level of hearing loss and suggest the best strategy. If needed, your primary care physician will suggest a diet and exercise routine that best suit your personal needs.