How Your Hearing is Affected by Your Weight

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 improved hearing?

Research indicates children and adults who are overweight are more likely to cope with hearing loss and that eating healthy and exercising can help strengthen your hearing. It will be easier to make healthy hearing decisions for you and your whole family if you understand these connections.

Obesity And Adult Hearing

A Brigham and Women’s Hospital’s study showed women with a high body mass index (BMI) were at a higher risk of experiencing 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 participated in the study, the level of hearing loss increased as BMI increased. The heaviest people in the study had a 25% higher instance of hearing loss.

In this study, waist size also turned out to be a dependable indicator of hearing loss. Women with larger waist sizes had a higher risk of hearing loss, and the risk increased as waist sizes increased. Lastly, participants who took part in frequent physical activity had a decreased incidence of hearing loss.

Children’s Hearing And Obesity

A study on obese versus non-obese teenagers, performed 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. 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 resulted in a decreased ability to hear sounds at low frequencies, which makes it difficult to hear what people are saying in crowded places, such as classrooms.

Children often don’t realize they have a hearing problem so when they have hearing loss it’s especially worrisome. There will be an increasing danger that the problem 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 lies in the health symptoms linked to obesity. High blood pressure, poor circulation, and diabetes are all tied to hearing loss and are frequently caused by obesity.

The sensitive inner ear is made up of numerous delicate parts such as nerve cells, little capillaries, and other parts that will stop working correctly if they are not kept healthy. It’s crucial to have strong blood flow. This process can be hindered when obesity causes narrowing of the blood vessels and high blood pressure.

Decreased blood flow can also damage the cochlea, which receives vibrations and sends nerve impulses to the brain so you can discern what you’re hearing. If the cochlea is damaged, it’s usually irreversible.

What Should You do?

Women in the Brigham and Women’s Hospital study who exercised the most had a 17 percent less risk of developing hearing loss compared to those who exercised least. You don’t have to run a marathon to reduce 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 whole family will benefit from a better diet, as your diet can positively affect your hearing beyond the benefits gained from weight loss. If you have a child or grandchild in your family who is obese, talk about steps your family can take to promote a healthier lifestyle. You can show them exercises that are enjoyable for kids and work them into family gatherings. They may do the exercises on their own if they enjoy them enough.

If you suspect you are experiencing hearing loss, talk to a hearing specialist to discover whether it is related 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 course of action. If necessary, your primary care doctor will recommend a diet and exercise program 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.

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    Dr. Laura Padham, Audiologist

    Ocean Gate, NJ

    143 W Barnegat Avenue
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