Everybody knows that exercising and keeping yourself in shape is good for your general health but you might not know that losing weight is also good for your hearing.
Research reveals 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 connections can help you make healthy hearing decisions for you and your family.
Adult Hearing And Obesity
Women are more likely to experience hearing loss, according to a study carried out by Brigham And Women’s Hospital, if they have a high body mass index (BMI). 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 degree of hearing loss increased as BMI increased. The participants who were the most overweight were as much as 25 percent more likely to experience hearing impairment!
Another dependable indicator of hearing impairment, in this study, was the size of a person’s waist. With women, as the waist size gets bigger, the risk of hearing loss also increases. As a final point, participants who engaged in frequent physical activity had a decreased incidence of hearing loss.
Obesity And Children’s Hearing
A study by Columbia University’s Medical Center confirmed that obese teenagers had almost twice the risk of developing hearing loss in one ear than non-obese teenagers. These children experienced sensorineural hearing loss, which is a result of damage to sensitive hair cells in the inner ear that carry sound. This damage makes it hard to hear what people are saying in a loud setting such as a classroom because it diminishes the ability to hear lower frequencies.
Children frequently don’t recognize they have a hearing problem so when they have hearing loss it’s especially worrisome. If the issue isn’t addressed, there is a risk the hearing loss might get worse when they become adults.
What is The Connection?
Researchers suspect that the connection between obesity and hearing loss and tinnitus is based on the health symptoms related to obesity. High blood pressure, diabetes, and poor circulation are some of the health issues caused by obesity and tied to hearing loss.
The inner ear’s anatomy is very sensitive – comprised of a series of small capillaries, nerve cells, and other delicate parts that must stay healthy to work correctly and in unison. It’s crucial to have strong blood flow. High blood pressure and the narrowing of blood vessels caused by obesity can impede this process.
Reduced blood flow can also damage the cochlea, which receives vibrations and transmits nerve impulses to the brain so you can discern what you’re hearing. Damage to the cochlea and the adjoining 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 decreased risk of developing hearing loss versus those who exercised least. You don’t need to run a marathon to reduce your risk, however. Walking for two or more hours each week resulted in a 15% decreased chance of hearing loss than walking for under an hour.
Beyond losing weight, a better diet will, of itself, help your hearing which will benefit your whole family. If there is a child in your family who has some extra weight, talk with your family members and put together a routine to help them shed some pounds. You can teach them exercises that are fun for children and work them into family gatherings. They might like the exercises so much they will do them on their own!
If you suspect you are experiencing hearing loss, speak with a hearing professional to determine whether it is linked to your weight. Better hearing can be the result of weight loss and there’s help 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 doctor if needed.