How Your Hearing is Impacted by Your Weight

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

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

Research shows children and adults who are overweight are more likely to cope with hearing loss and that healthy eating and exercising can help strengthen your hearing. Learning more about these associations 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 women with a high body mass index (BMI) were at an increased danger of having hearing loss. The connection between height and body fat is what BMI measures. The higher the number the higher the body fat. Of the 68,000 women who took part in the study, the amount of hearing loss increased as BMI increased. The heaviest people in the study had a 25% greater instance of hearing loss.

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 got higher as waist sizes increased. As a final point, participants who took part in regular physical activity had a reduced incidence of hearing loss.

Obesity And Children’s Hearing

A study on obese versus non-obese teenagers, conducted by Columbia University Medical Center, determined that obese teenagers were twice as likely to develop hearing loss in one ear than teenagers who weren’t obese. These children experienced sensorineural hearing loss, which is a result of damage to sensitive hair cells in the inner ear that convey sound. This damage makes it hard to hear what people are saying in a noisy setting like a classroom because it decreases the ability to hear lower frequencies.

Children often don’t detect they have a hearing problem so when they have hearing loss it’s particularly worrisome. There will be an increasing danger that the issue will get worse as they become an adult if it’s not treated.

What is The Connection?

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

The inner ear’s workings are very sensitive – comprised of a series of little capillaries, nerve cells, and other delicate parts that must remain healthy to work effectively and in unison. Good blood flow is essential. High blood pressure and the narrowing of blood vessels brought about by obesity can impede this process.

Reduced blood flow can also damage the cochlea, which receives sound waves and sends nerve impulses to the brain so you can discern what you’re hearing. Injury to the cochlea and the surrounding 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 lower chance of experiencing hearing loss in comparison with those who exercised least. You don’t have to run a marathon to reduce your risk, however. Walking for a couple of hours per week resulted in a 15 percent reduced 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 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 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 believe you are experiencing hearing loss, consult a hearing specialist to determine whether it is linked to your weight. Weight loss stimulates better hearing and help is available. Your hearing professional will determine your level of hearing loss and suggest the best plan of action. If needed, your primary care physician will recommend a diet and exercise program that best suit your individual 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.