How Your Weight Impacts Your Hearing

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

There are lots of health reasons to remain in shape, but did you know weight loss promotes improved 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. It will be easier to make healthy hearing decisions for you and your whole family if you know about these connections.

Adult Hearing And Obesity

A Brigham and Women’s Hospital’s study demonstrated that women with a high body mass index (BMI) were at an increased danger of having hearing loss. The connection between body fat and height is what BMI measures. The higher the number the higher the body fat. Of the 68,000 women who participated in the study, the degree of hearing loss increased as BMI increased. The heaviest people in the study had a 25% higher instance of hearing loss.

Another reliable indicator of hearing impairment, in this study, was waist size. With women, as the waist size gets bigger, the risk of hearing loss also increases. Lastly, participants who took part in regular physical activity had a decreased incidence of hearing loss.

Obesity And Children’s Hearing

A study by Columbia University’s Medical Center demonstrated that obese teenagers had about twice the risk of developing hearing loss in one ear than non-obese teenagers. Sensorineural hearing loss, which happens when the sensitive hair cells in the inner ear are damaged, was common in these children. This damage led to a diminished ability to hear sounds at low frequencies, which makes it hard to understand what people are saying in crowded settings, such as classrooms.

Children frequently don’t detect they have a hearing issue so when they have hearing loss it’s especially worrisome. If the problem isn’t dealt with, there is a danger the hearing loss may get worse when they become adults.

What is The Connection?

Obesity is related to several health issues and researchers think that its connection with hearing loss and tinnitus lies with these health problems. High blood pressure, poor circulation, and diabetes are some of the health issues related to obesity and tied to hearing loss.

The inner ear’s anatomy is very sensitive – composed of a series of little capillaries, nerve cells, and other delicate parts that have to remain healthy to work correctly and in unison. Good blood flow is essential. High blood pressure and the constricting of blood vessels brought about by obesity can obstruct this process.

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 damaged if it doesn’t get the proper blood flow. Damage 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 less chance of developing hearing loss compared to those who exercised least. You don’t have to run a marathon to lower your risk, however. The simple routine of walking for at least two hours every week can lower your chance of hearing loss by 15%.

Beyond losing weight, a better diet will, of itself, help your hearing which will benefit your whole 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 work this program into family gatherings where you all will do exercises that are fun for kids. 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 professional to determine whether it is linked to your weight. Weight loss stimulates better hearing and help is available. Your hearing specialist will determine your level of hearing loss and suggest the best strategy. If necessary, your primary care doctor will recommend a diet and exercise routine 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.