Everybody recognizes 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 shows children and adults who are overweight are more likely to experience hearing loss and that healthy eating and exercising can help strengthen your hearing. It will be easier to make healthy hearing choices for you and your whole family if you understand these associations.
Adult Hearing And Obesity
Women had a higher risk of developing hearing loss, according to research done by Brigham And Women’s Hospital, if they have a high body mass index (BMI). 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 impairment frequency. The participants who were the most overweight were up to 25 percent 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 chance of hearing loss also increases. And finally, incidents of hearing loss were reduced in people who took part in frequent physical activity.
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 delicate hair cells in the inner ear are damaged, was common in these children. This damage resulted in a diminished ability to hear sounds at low frequencies, which makes it difficult to hear what people are saying in crowded settings, such as classrooms.
Hearing loss in children is especially worrisome because kids frequently don’t realize they have a hearing problem. If the problem isn’t addressed, there is a possibility the hearing loss may worsen when they become adults.
What is The Connection?
Obesity is related to several health issues and researchers think that its connection with hearing loss and tinnitus lies with these health problems. High blood pressure, diabetes, and poor circulation are all tied to hearing loss and are frequently caused by obesity.
The inner ear’s workings are very sensitive – consisting of a series of small capillaries, nerve cells, and other delicate parts that must stay healthy to work correctly and in unison. Good blood flow is essential. High blood pressure and the constricting of blood vessels caused by obesity can hamper this process.
Reduced blood flow can also damage the cochlea, which receives vibrations and transmits nerve impulses to the brain so you can distinguish what you’re hearing. If the cochlea gets damaged, it’s usually permanent.
What Should You do?
Women who stayed healthy and exercised frequently, according to a Brigham and Women’s Hospital study, had a 17% reduced likelihood of developing hearing loss compared to women who didn’t. Decreasing your risk, however, doesn’t mean you have to be a marathon runner. The simple routine of walking for at least two hours every week can decrease your chance of hearing loss by 15%.
Beyond weight loss, a better diet will, of itself, improve your hearing which will benefit your entire family. If there is a child in your family who has some extra weight, get together with your family members and put together a program to help them lose some of that weight. You can work this program into family gatherings where you all will do exercises that are fun for kids. They might enjoy the exercises enough to do them on their own!
If you suspect you are experiencing hearing loss, speak with a hearing professional to determine whether it is related to your weight. Better hearing can come from weight loss and there’s help available. Your hearing specialist will identify your level of hearing loss and advise you on the best plan of action. If needed, your primary care physician will recommend a diet and exercise program that best suit your individual needs.