Everybody 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.
Studies have established that exercising and eating healthy can reinforce your hearing and that people who are overweight have a higher risk of getting hearing loss. Knowing more about these associations can help you make healthy hearing decisions for you and your family.
Obesity And Adult Hearing
A Brigham and Women’s Hospital’s study revealed women with a high body mass index (BMI) were at an increased 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. The higher the BMI of the 68,000 women in the study, the higher their hearing impairment incidence. The participants who were the most overweight were as much as 25 % more likely to have hearing impairment!
Another reliable 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. And finally, incidents of hearing loss were reduced in individuals who engaged in frequent physical activity.
Children’s Hearing And Obesity
A study by Columbia University’s Medical Center demonstrated that obese teenagers had almost twice the risk of experiencing hearing loss in one ear when compared to non-obese teenagers. Sensorineural hearing loss, which develops when the delicate hair cells in the inner ear are damaged, was common in these children. This damage led to a decreased ability to hear sounds at low frequencies, which makes it hard to understand what people are saying in crowded settings, like classrooms.
Hearing loss in children is especially worrisome because kids often don’t realize they have a hearing issue. There will be an increasing risk that the problem will get worse as they become an adult if it goes unaddressed.
What is The Connection?
Researchers surmise that the association 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 the result of obesity.
The inner ear’s anatomy is very sensitive – comprised of a series of little capillaries, nerve cells, and other delicate parts that must stay healthy to work correctly and in unison. It’s essential 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 which receives sound vibrations and transmits them to the brain for translation. The cochlea can be harmed if it doesn’t get the proper blood flow. Damage to the cochlea and the surrounding nerve cells can rarely be undone.
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% lowered likelihood of getting hearing loss in comparison with women who didn’t. Lowering your risk, however, doesn’t mean you need to be a marathon runner. Walking for two or more hours each week resulted in a 15% reduced chance of hearing loss than walking for less than an hour.
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, talk with your family members and put together a program to help them lose some of that weight. You can show them exercises that are enjoyable for children and incorporate them into family gatherings. They may like the exercises enough to do them on their own!
Consult a hearing specialist to figure out if any hearing loss you may be experiencing 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. If necessary, your primary care doctor will suggest a diet and exercise routine that best suit your individual needs.