Everybody recognizes that exercising and keeping yourself in shape is good for your overall health but you may 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 eating healthy and exercising can help fortify your hearing. Learning more about these relationships can help you make healthy hearing choices for you and your family.
Adult Hearing And Obesity
Women are more likely to experience hearing loss, according to research done by Brigham And Women’s Hospital, if they have a high body mass index (BMI). BMI calculates the relationship between body fat and height, with a higher number signifying higher body fat. Of the 68,000 women who participated in the study, the amount of hearing loss increased as BMI increased. The participants who were the most overweight were as much as 25 % more likely to have hearing loss!
Another reliable indicator of hearing impairment, in this study, was the size of a person’s waist. With women, as the waist size increases, the risk of hearing loss also increases. And finally, incidents of hearing loss were decreased in people who engaged in frequent physical activity.
Children’s Hearing And Obesity
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. These children experienced sensorineural hearing loss, which is a result of damage to sensitive hair cells in the inner ear that convey sound. This damage makes it hard to hear what people are saying in a loud setting like a classroom because it diminishes the ability to hear lower frequencies.
Children frequently don’t detect they have a hearing issue so when they have hearing loss it’s particularly worrisome. If the issue isn’t addressed, there is a risk the hearing loss might worsen when they become adults.
What is The Connection?
Researchers surmise that the connection between obesity and hearing loss and tinnitus is based on the health symptoms related to obesity. High blood pressure, poor circulation, and diabetes are all tied to hearing loss and are often caused by obesity.
The inner ear’s anatomy is very sensitive – consisting of a series of small capillaries, nerve cells, and other delicate parts that have to remain healthy to work correctly 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.
Reduced blood flow can also damage the cochlea, which accepts vibrations and transmits nerve impulses to the brain so you can distinguish what you’re hearing. If the cochlea is damaged, it’s usually permanent.
What Should You do?
Women who stayed healthy and exercised regularly, according to a Brigham and Women’s Hospital study, had a 17% lowered likelihood of getting hearing loss in comparison with women who didn’t. Reducing your risk, however, doesn’t mean you need to be a marathon runner. The simple routine of walking for at least two hours every week can lower your risk of hearing loss by 15%.
Beyond losing weight, a better diet will, of itself, improve your hearing which will benefit your whole family. 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 show them exercises that are fun for children and incorporate them into family gatherings. They might do the exercises on their own if they like them enough.
Consult a hearing professional to find out if any hearing loss you may be experiencing is associated with your weight. Better hearing can come from weight loss and there’s help available. This individual can do a hearing exam to confirm your suspicions and advise you on the steps necessary to deal with your hearing loss symptoms. If necessary, your primary care physician will suggest a diet and exercise program that best suit your individual needs.