Florida Hearing Matters - Fort Lauderdale, FL

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

Everyone knows that exercising and keeping yourself in shape is good for your general health but you might not realize that losing weight is also good for your 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. Knowing more about these connections can help you make healthy hearing choices for you and your family.

Obesity And Adult Hearing

A Brigham and Women’s Hospital’s study demonstrated women with a high body mass index (BMI) were at a higher risk of having 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 participants who were the most overweight were up to 25 % more likely to have hearing loss!

In this study, waist size also ended up being a reliable indicator of hearing loss. Women with bigger waist sizes had a higher risk of hearing loss, and the risk increased as waist sizes increased. Lastly, participants who engaged in frequent physical activity had a lower incidence of hearing loss.

Obesity And Children’s Hearing

A study on obese versus non-obese teenagers, conducted by Columbia University Medical Center, determined that obese teenagers were twice as likely to develop 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 makes it difficult to hear what people are saying in a noisy setting such as a classroom because it diminishes the ability to hear lower frequencies.

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

What is The Connection?

Researchers think that the connection between obesity and hearing loss and tinnitus is based on the health symptoms linked to obesity. Poor circulation, diabetes, and high blood pressure are all linked to hearing loss and are often the result of obesity.

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

The cochlea is a part of the inner ear that receives sound vibrations and sends them to the brain for interpretation. The cochlea can be damaged if it doesn’t get optimal blood flow. Injury to the cochlea and the surrounding 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 decreased chance of developing hearing loss versus those who exercised least. Reducing your risk, however, doesn’t mean you have to be a marathon runner. Walking for a couple of hours every week resulted in a 15% lower risk of hearing loss than walking for less than an hour.

Your whole family will benefit from eating better, as your diet can positively impact your hearing beyond the advantages gained from weight loss. 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 gatherings where you all will do exercises that are fun for kids. They might do the exercises on their own if they enjoy them enough.

If you believe you are experiencing hearing loss, speak with a hearing specialist to discover whether it is related 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. A program of exercise and diet can be suggested by your primary care physician if needed.

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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.