How Your Hearing is Impacted by Your Weight


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

Studies have demonstrated that exercising and healthy eating can improve your hearing and that people who are overweight have a higher risk of dealing with hearing loss. Understanding more about these connections can help you make healthy hearing choices for you and your family.

Adult Hearing And Obesity

A Brigham and Women’s Hospital’s study showed that women with a high body mass index (BMI) were at a higher risk of having hearing loss. The relationship 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 loss frequency. The heaviest people in the study had a 25% greater instance of hearing loss.

In this study, waist size also turned out to be a dependable indicator of hearing impairment. Women with bigger waist sizes had a higher chance of hearing loss, and the risk increased as waist sizes increased. Lastly, participants who engaged in frequent physical activity had a lower incidence of hearing loss.

Obesity And Children’s Hearing

A study on obese versus non-obese teenagers, performed 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 happens when the sensitive 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 places, like classrooms.

Children frequently don’t detect they have a hearing issue so when they have hearing loss it’s especially worrisome. If the problem isn’t dealt with, there is a danger the hearing loss might worsen when they become adults.

What is The Connection?

Obesity is associated with several health issues and researchers believe that its connection with hearing loss and tinnitus lies with these health problems. High blood pressure, diabetes, and poor circulation are all linked to hearing loss and are often caused by obesity.

The sensitive inner ear is made up of numerous delicate parts such as nerve cells, small capillaries, and other parts which will quit working properly if they are not kept healthy. Good blood flow is essential. High blood pressure and the narrowing of blood vessels caused by obesity can impede this process.

The cochlea is a part of the inner ear which receives sound vibrations and delivers them to the brain for translation. The cochlea can be damaged if it doesn’t get adequate blood flow. If the cochlea is damaged, it’s normally permanent.

Is There Anything You Can do?

Women in the Brigham and Women’s Hospital study who exercised the most had a 17 percent decreased chance of experiencing hearing loss versus those who exercised least. Lessening your risk, however, doesn’t mean you have to be a marathon runner. Walking for a couple of hours per week resulted in a 15 percent lower chance of hearing loss than walking for less than an hour.

Beyond losing weight, a better diet will, of itself, improve your hearing which will benefit your entire family. If you have a child or grandchild in your family who is obese, discuss steps your family can take to promote a healthier lifestyle. You can work this routine into family gatherings where you all will do exercises that are fun for kids. They might like the exercises so much they will do them on their own!

If you think you are experiencing hearing loss, talk to a hearing specialist to determine whether it is related to your weight. Better hearing can come from weight loss and there’s help available. This person can conduct a hearing exam to confirm your suspicions and advise you on the measures needed to correct your hearing loss symptoms. If needed, your primary care physician will recommend a diet and exercise routine that best suit your individual needs.

The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.