Everyone recognizes that exercising and keeping yourself in shape is good for your overall health but you may not know that losing weight is also good for your hearing.
Research reveals children and adults who are overweight are more likely to cope with hearing loss and that healthy eating and exercising can help strengthen your hearing. Learning more about these connections can help you make healthy hearing decisions for you and your family.
Obesity And Adult Hearing
A Brigham and Women’s Hospital’s study demonstrated that women with a high body mass index (BMI) were at an increased risk of experiencing hearing loss. BMI calculates the relationship between height and body fat, with a higher number signifying higher body fat. Of the 68,000 women who took part in the study, the level of hearing loss increased as BMI increased. The participants who were the most overweight were as much as 25 percent more likely to have hearing impairment!
In this study, waist size also ended up being 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 decreased in individuals who took part in regular physical activity.
Obesity And Children’s Hearing
A study on obese versus non-obese teenagers, carried out by Columbia University Medical Center, determined 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 decreased ability to hear sounds at low frequencies, which makes it hard to understand what people are saying in crowded places, such as classrooms.
Hearing loss in children is particularly worrisome because kids often don’t recognize 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 connection between obesity and hearing loss and tinnitus lies in the health symptoms linked 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 contains numerous delicate parts including nerve cells, small capillaries, and other parts that will quit working properly if they are not kept healthy. Good blood flow is crucial. This process can be hampered when obesity causes constricting of the blood vessels and high blood pressure.
The cochlea is a part of the inner ear which receives sound vibrations and sends them to the brain for translation. The cochlea can be harmed if it doesn’t receive the proper blood flow. Damage to the cochlea and the adjoining nerve cells can rarely be undone.
Is There Anything You Can do?
Women in the Brigham and Women’s Hospital study who exercised the most had a 17 percent lower chance of developing hearing loss in comparison with those who exercised least. Lowering your risk, however, doesn’t mean you need to be a marathon runner. The simple routine of walking for at least two hours every week can decrease your risk of hearing loss by 15%.
Your entire family will benefit from eating better, as your diet can positively impact your hearing beyond the advantages gained from weight loss. If you have a child or grandchild in your family who is obese, talk about steps your family can take to encourage a healthier lifestyle. You can show them exercises that are fun for children and incorporate them into family gatherings. They may like the exercises so much they will do them on their own!
Consult a hearing professional to find out if any hearing loss you may be experiencing is related to your weight. Better hearing can come from weight loss and there’s help available. This person can do a hearing exam to confirm your suspicions and advise you on the steps necessary to correct your hearing loss symptoms. A regimen of exercise and diet can be recommended by your primary care physician if necessary.