How Your Hearing is Affected by Your Weight

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

There are lots of health reasons to stay 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 support your hearing. It will be easier to make healthy hearing decisions for you and your whole family if you understand these associations.

Adult Hearing And Obesity

A Brigham and Women’s Hospital’s study demonstrated women with a high body mass index (BMI) were at a higher danger of having hearing loss. BMI measures the connection between height and body fat, with a higher number indicating higher body fat. Of the 68,000 women who participated 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.

In this study, waist size also ended up being a dependable indicator of hearing impairment. With women, as the waist size increases, the chance of hearing loss also increases. And finally, incidents of hearing loss were decreased in individuals who engaged in frequent physical activity.

Obesity And Children’s Hearing

A study on obese versus non-obese teenagers, conducted by Columbia University Medical Center, concluded that obese teenagers were twice as likely to experience hearing loss in one ear than teenagers who weren’t obese. Sensorineural hearing loss, which happens when the sensitive hair cells in the inner ear are damaged, was common in these children. This damage resulted in a diminished ability to hear sounds at low frequencies, which makes it difficult to understand what people are saying in crowded places, such as classrooms.

Children often don’t notice they have a hearing problem so when they have hearing loss it’s especially worrisome. 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 is based on the health symptoms related to obesity. Poor circulation, diabetes, and high blood pressure are all tied to hearing loss and are frequently the result of obesity.

The inner ear’s anatomy is very sensitive – composed of a series of little capillaries, nerve cells, and other delicate parts that need to remain healthy to work correctly and in unison. It’s essential to have strong blood flow. 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 distinguish what you’re hearing. If the cochlea is damaged, it’s normally irreversible.

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 experiencing hearing loss compared to those who exercised least. You don’t need to run a marathon to lower your risk, however. The simple routine of walking for at least two hours every week can reduce your chance of hearing loss by 15%.

Your entire family will benefit from eating better, as your diet can positively affect your hearing beyond the benefits gained through weight loss. If you have a child or grandchild in your family who is overweight, talk about steps your family can take to encourage a healthier lifestyle. You can work this program into family get-togethers where you all will do exercises that are fun for kids. They might like the exercises so much they will do them on their own!

If you think you are experiencing hearing loss, consult a hearing specialist to discover whether it is related to your weight. Weight loss promotes better hearing and help is available. Your hearing specialist will identify your level of hearing loss and suggest the best course of action. If needed, 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.