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

Everybody recognizes that exercising and keeping yourself in shape is good for your overall health but you might not realize that losing weight is also good for your hearing.

Research reveals 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 relationships can help you make healthy hearing choices for you and your family.

Obesity And Adult Hearing

A Brigham and Women’s Hospital’s study revealed that women with a high body mass index (BMI) were at an increased risk of experiencing hearing loss. BMI assesses the connection between height and body fat, with a higher number indicating higher body fat. The higher the BMI of the 68,000 women in the study, the higher their hearing loss amount. The participants who were the most overweight were up to 25 percent more likely to experience hearing impairment!

In this study, waist size also ended up being a dependable indicator of hearing impairment. Women with larger waist sizes had a higher risk of hearing loss, and the risk increased as waist sizes increased. And finally, incidents of hearing loss were lower in people who engaged in regular physical activity.

Obesity And Children’s Hearing

A study on obese versus non-obese teenagers, performed by Columbia University Medical Center, determined that obese teenagers were twice as likely to experience hearing loss in one ear than teenagers who were not obese. Sensorineural hearing loss, which occurs when the sensitive hair cells in the inner ear are damaged, was common in these children. This damage led to a decreased ability to hear sounds at low frequencies, which makes it hard to understand what people are saying in crowded places, like classrooms.

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

What is The Connection?

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

The sensitive inner ear is made up of various delicate parts such as nerve cells, little capillaries, and other parts that will quit working properly if they are not kept healthy. It’s essential to have strong blood flow. High blood pressure and the constricting of blood vessels caused by obesity can hamper this process.

Decreased blood flow can also damage the cochlea, which accepts sound waves and sends nerve impulses to the brain so you can discern what you’re hearing. Injury to the cochlea and the adjoining nerve cells can rarely be undone.

Is There Anything You Can do?

Women in the Brigham and Women’s Hospital study who exercised the most had a 17 percent less risk of experiencing hearing loss in comparison with those who exercised least. Decreasing your risk, however, doesn’t mean you need to be a marathon runner. The simple routine of walking for at least two hours per week can reduce your risk of hearing loss by 15%.

Beyond weight loss, 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 overweight, talk about steps your family can take to encourage a healthier lifestyle. You can work this routine 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 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 professional will identify your level of hearing loss and suggest the best strategy. If needed, your primary care physician will suggest a diet and exercise routine that best suit your personal needs.

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