Everyone recognizes that exercising and keeping yourself in shape is good for your general health but you may not know that losing weight is also good for your hearing.
Research shows children and adults who are overweight are more likely to experience hearing loss and that healthy eating and exercising can help support your hearing. Learning more about these relationships can help you make healthy hearing decisions for you and your family.
Adult Hearing And Obesity
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. BMI calculates the relationship between body fat and height, with a higher number meaning higher body fat. The higher the BMI of the 68,000 women in the study, the higher their hearing loss incidence. The participants who were the most overweight were as much as 25 % more likely to have hearing loss!
In this study, waist size also turned out to be a reliable indicator of hearing loss. Women with larger waist sizes had a higher chance of hearing loss, and the risk got higher as waist sizes increased. As a final point, participants who engaged in regular physical activity had a lower incidence of hearing loss.
Children’s Hearing And Obesity
A study on obese versus non-obese teenagers, carried out by Columbia University Medical Center, concluded that obese teenagers were twice as likely to develop hearing loss in one ear than teenagers who were not obese. Sensorineural hearing loss, which happens 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 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?
Obesity is associated with several health issues and researchers think that its connection with hearing loss and tinnitus lies with these health issues. High blood pressure, diabetes, and poor circulation are some of the health issues caused by obesity and linked to hearing loss.
The inner ear’s workings are very sensitive – consisting of a series of little capillaries, nerve cells, and other delicate parts that have to remain healthy to work properly and in unison. Good blood flow is essential. This process can be hampered when obesity causes narrowing of the blood vessels and high blood pressure.
The cochlea is a part of the inner ear that receives sound vibrations and transmits them to the brain for interpretation. The cochlea can be harmed if it doesn’t get adequate blood flow. If the cochlea gets damaged, it’s normally irreversible.
Is There Anything You Can do?
Women who remained healthy and exercised regularly, according to a Brigham and Women’s Hospital study, had a 17% reduced likelihood of developing hearing loss in comparison with women who didn’t. You don’t have to run a marathon to decrease your risk, however. Walking for a couple of hours each week resulted in a 15 percent decreased risk of hearing loss than walking for less than an hour.
Beyond losing weight, a better diet will, of itself, improve your hearing which will benefit your whole family. If there is a child in your family who has some extra weight, get together with your family members and put together a routine to help them lose some of that weight. You can work this routine into family gatherings where you all will do exercises that are fun for kids. They may 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 determine whether it is related to your weight. Weight loss promotes better hearing and help is available. Your hearing specialist will determine your level of hearing loss and advise you on the best plan of action. A regimen of exercise and diet can be recommended by your primary care physician if needed.