There are plenty of health reasons to remain in shape, but did you realize weight loss supports improved hearing?
Research reveals children and adults who are overweight are more likely to experience hearing loss and that eating healthy and exercising can help strengthen your hearing. 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 showed women with a high body mass index (BMI) were at an increased risk of experiencing hearing loss. The connection between body fat and height 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 loss amount. The participants who were the most overweight were as much as 25 percent more likely to experience hearing impairment!
In this study, waist size also turned out to be a reliable indicator of hearing impairment. With women, as the waist size increases, the risk of hearing loss also increases. And finally, incidents of hearing loss were reduced in individuals who engaged in regular physical activity.
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 weren’t obese. These children experienced sensorineural hearing loss, which is caused by damage to sensitive hair cells in the inner ear that convey sound. This damage resulted in a diminished ability to hear sounds at low frequencies, which makes it difficult to understand what people are saying in crowded places, like classrooms.
Hearing loss in children is particularly worrisome because kids frequently don’t realize they have a hearing problem. If the issue isn’t dealt with, there is a danger the hearing loss may get worse when they become adults.
What is The Connection?
Researchers suspect that the connection between obesity and hearing loss and tinnitus lies in the health symptoms related to obesity. Poor circulation, diabetes, and high blood pressure are some of the health problems related to obesity and tied to hearing loss.
The sensitive inner ear is made up of numerous delicate parts such as nerve cells, small capillaries, and other parts that will quit working efficiently if they are not kept healthy. 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 normally permanent.
What Should You do?
Women in the Brigham and Women’s Hospital study who exercised the most had a 17 percent less chance of developing hearing loss versus those who exercised least. You don’t need to run a marathon to reduce your risk, however. The simple act of walking for at least two hours every week can lower your chance of hearing loss by 15%.
Your entire family will benefit from a better diet, as your diet can positively impact your hearing beyond the benefits gained through weight loss. If you have a child or grandchild in your family who is obese, discuss steps your family can take to encourage a healthier lifestyle. You can show them exercises that are enjoyable for kids and work them into family gatherings. They might do the exercises on their own if they like them enough.
Talk to a hearing specialist to figure out if any hearing loss you may be experiencing is associated with your weight. Better hearing can be the result of weight loss and there’s help available. This person can do a hearing test to confirm your suspicions and advise you on the steps necessary to correct your hearing loss symptoms. A program of exercise and diet can be recommended by your primary care physician if needed.