How Your Weight Affects Your Hearing

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

There are plenty of health reasons to keep in shape, but did you know weight loss supports better hearing?

Research reveals children and adults who are overweight are more likely to experience hearing loss and that eating healthy and exercising can help support your hearing. Knowing more about these relationships can help you make healthy hearing choices for you and your family.

Obesity And Adult Hearing

Women are more likely to experience hearing loss, according to a study carried out by Brigham And Women’s Hospital, if they have a high body mass index (BMI). BMI measures the relationship between height and body fat, with a higher number meaning higher body fat. The higher the BMI of the 68,000 women in the study, the higher their hearing impairment incidence. The heaviest individuals in the study had a 25% greater instance of hearing loss.

Another dependable indicator of hearing loss, in this study, was waist size. With women, as the waist size increases, the chance of hearing loss also increases. As a final point, participants who engaged in frequent physical activity had a reduced incidence of hearing loss.

Obesity And Children’s Hearing

A study by Columbia University’s Medical Center demonstrated that obese teenagers had nearly double the risk of experiencing hearing loss in one ear than non-obese teenagers. Sensorineural hearing loss, which happens when the delicate 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 loud 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 especially worrisome. If the problem isn’t dealt with, there is a possibility the hearing loss could worsen when they become adults.

What is The Connection?

Obesity is associated with several health problems and researchers suspect that its connection with hearing loss and tinnitus lies with these health problems. Poor circulation, diabetes, and high blood pressure are all linked to hearing loss and are often caused by obesity.

The inner ear’s anatomy is very sensitive – consisting of a series of small capillaries, nerve cells, and other fragile parts that need to remain healthy to work effectively and in unison. It’s crucial 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 that receives sound vibrations and delivers them to the brain for interpretation. The cochlea can be harmed if it doesn’t get optimal blood flow. If the cochlea is damaged, it’s usually permanent.

Is There Anything You Can do?

Women in the Brigham and Women’s Hospital study who exercised the most had a 17 percent decreased chance of developing hearing loss versus those who exercised least. You don’t need to run a marathon to decrease your risk, however. Walking for a couple of hours every week resulted in a 15% decreased risk of hearing loss than walking for less than an hour.

Beyond weight loss, 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 promote 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 do the exercises on their own if they like them enough.

If you suspect you are experiencing hearing loss, speak with a hearing professional to determine whether it is related to your weight. Weight loss stimulates better hearing and help is available. Your hearing specialist will identify your level of hearing loss and suggest the best strategy. A program of exercise and diet can be suggested by your primary care physician if necessary.

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.