Everybody knows that exercising and keeping yourself in shape is good for your overall health but you might not know that losing weight is also good for your hearing.
Research indicates children and adults who are overweight are more likely to cope with hearing loss and that eating healthy and exercising can help support your hearing. It will be easier to make healthy hearing decisions for you and your whole family if you understand these associations.
Adult Hearing And Obesity
A Brigham and Women’s Hospital’s study demonstrated that women with a high body mass index (BMI) were at a higher risk of having hearing loss. BMI calculates the connection between height and body fat, with a higher number indicating higher body fat. Of the 68,000 women who participated in the study, the level of hearing loss increased as BMI increased. The participants who were the most overweight were as much as 25 % more likely to have hearing impairment!
In this study, waist size also ended up being a reliable indicator of hearing loss. 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 decreased in people who took part in frequent 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 were not obese. 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 hear what people are saying in crowded settings, like classrooms.
Children usually don’t detect they have a hearing problem so when they have hearing loss it’s especially worrisome. There will be an increasing risk that the issue will get worse as they become an adult if it goes unaddressed.
What is The Connection?
Obesity is related to several health issues and researchers suspect that its connection with hearing loss and tinnitus lies with these health issues. High blood pressure, diabetes, and poor circulation are some of the health problems related to obesity and tied to hearing loss.
The inner ear’s workings are very sensitive – comprised of a series of small capillaries, nerve cells, and other fragile parts that have to remain healthy to work properly and in unison. It’s crucial to have strong blood flow. This process can be hampered when obesity causes constricting of the blood vessels and high blood pressure.
Decreased blood flow can also damage the cochlea, which receives sound waves and transmits nerve impulses to the brain so you can distinguish what you’re hearing. If the cochlea is damaged, it’s usually permanent.
Is There Anything You Can 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 have to run a marathon to reduce your risk, however. The simple act of walking for at least two hours each week can reduce your risk of hearing loss by 15%.
Your entire family will benefit from a better diet, as your diet can positively affect your hearing beyond the advantages gained from 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 show them exercises that are fun for kids and work them into family get-togethers. They might like the exercises enough to do them on their own!
If you think you are experiencing hearing loss, talk to a hearing specialist to discover whether it is related to your weight. Weight loss promotes better hearing and help is available. Your hearing specialist will identify your level of hearing loss and advise you on the best plan of action. A regimen of exercise and diet can be recommended by your primary care physician if needed.