Obesity and hearing loss
If your favorite pair of jeans doesn’t fit the way they used to and you’re planning to buy a bigger size with one of your holiday gift cards, reconsider. Your hearing health may benefit if you lose the extra weight instead.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in 2010-2011 more than one third of all adults in the United States were overweight. Adults with a body mass index (BMI) between 25 and 29.9 are considered overweight; those with BMIs of more than 30 are considered obese.
How does excessive weight contribute to hearing loss?
Our inner ears are a complex system of semi-circular tubes filled with fluid and nerve endings. One of the main components to this system is auditory hair cells which are responsible for detecting sound, translating it into electrical signals and transmitting it to the brain for interpretation. Once these hair cells are damaged, they cannot be regenerated and hearing loss is permanent.
Studies indicate healthy blood flow and oxygen contribute to the health of these hair cells. Since obesity puts a huge strain on the walls of your capillaries, they struggle to transport oxygen to the cells efficiently.
Because excess weight makes it difficult for your heart to pump blood through out your body, obesity can also cause high blood pressure. Believe it or not, in addition to an increased risk of stroke, high blood pressure also increases your risk of developing hearing loss. At the very least, high blood pressure can cause tinnitus, or ringing in the ears. At its worst, high blood pressure causes sensitivity to noise, which elevates your chances for developing noise-induced hearing loss.
Excess weight is not your friend
Of course, your hearing health is only one of a number of reasons to maintain a healthy weight. We all know that excessive body fat put a big strain on our hearts and is detrimental to our circulatory systems. But being overweight also puts us at risk for developing diabetes – most commonly, Type 2 Diabetes – which is one of the major causes of heart disease and stroke and the seventh leading cause of death in the United States.
Resolve to get healthy
That might be why one of the most popular New Year’s resolutions every year is to lose weight. Resolving to lose weight is a great idea for your overall health, as long as you do it right.
Consult your family doctor. Before you begin a weight loss program, schedule a visit with your doctor. She can determine if you’re healthy enough to get started and suggest alternate programs if yours is too strenuous for your current health.
Get enough exercise. According to the CDC, regular physical activity improves your overall health and fitness and reduces the risk for chronic diseases. They recommend adults age 18-64 engage in at least two and a half hours of moderate aerobic exercise every week. Again, make sure to check with your doctor first.
Eat healthy food. If you have trouble sifting through all of the nutrition advice on the market, log on to ChooseMyPlate.gov created by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). This website has nutrition tips, recipes, weight trackers and other helpful resources that can help you plan a balanced diet. And here’s a bonus: eating the right foods is also good for your hearing health.
If you’ve recognized that you need to lose some weight this year, there’s no time like the present to get started. By this time next year not only will your heart thank you, the resulting health benefit will be music to your ears as well. If you think you might be suffering from hearing loss, make sure to schedule an appointment with your hearing healthcare professional.