Woman weighing herself and realizing her weight affects her hearing health.

There are lots of health reasons to stay in shape, but did you realize weight loss supports better hearing?

Research shows children and adults who are overweight are more likely to experience hearing loss and that eating healthy and exercising can help strengthen your hearing. Understanding more about these connections can help you make healthy hearing choices for you and your family.

Obesity And Adult Hearing

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). The relationship 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 amount of hearing loss increased as BMI increased. The heaviest individuals in the study had a 25% higher instance of hearing loss.

Another reliable indicator of hearing impairment, in this study, was waist size. Women with larger waist sizes had a higher risk of hearing loss, and the risk got higher as waist sizes increased. 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 a result of damage to sensitive hair cells in the inner ear that carry sound. This damage resulted in a diminished ability to hear sounds at low frequencies, which makes it hard to understand what people are saying in crowded settings, such as classrooms.

Children frequently don’t detect they have a hearing problem so when they have hearing loss it’s particularly worrisome. There will be an increasing danger that the problem will get worse as they become an adult if it goes unaddressed.

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 all tied to hearing loss and are often the result of obesity.

The sensitive inner ear contains various delicate parts including nerve cells, little capillaries, and other parts which will stop working properly if they are not kept healthy. It’s crucial to have strong blood flow. High blood pressure and the narrowing of blood vessels brought about by obesity can obstruct this process.

Decreased blood flow can also damage the cochlea, which accepts sound waves and sends nerve impulses to the brain so you can recognize what you’re hearing. If the cochlea gets damaged, it’s usually irreversible.

What Should You 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 a couple of hours per week resulted in a 15% reduced chance of hearing loss than walking for under an hour.

Your entire family will benefit from a better diet, as your diet can positively affect your hearing beyond the benefits gained through weight loss. If you have a child or grandchild in your family who is overweight, talk about steps your family can take to promote a healthier lifestyle. You can incorporate this program into family gatherings where you all will do exercises that are fun for kids. They may do the exercises on their own if they enjoy them enough.

Consult a hearing specialist to determine if any hearing loss you might be experiencing is associated with your weight. Weight loss stimulates better hearing and help is available. This person can conduct a hearing test to confirm your suspicions and advise you on the steps needed to deal with your hearing loss symptoms. A regimen of exercise and diet can be recommended by your primary care physician if necessary.

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