Obesity and hearing loss: Are they connected?
Related conditions such as heart disease and diabetes likely play a larger role
Many Americans carry extra weight. According to the CDC, about 40% of adults have obesity.
Any disorder that affects circulation can potentially affect your hearing, including health conditions associated with obesity.
Does obesity cause hearing loss?
Research has explored the potential relationship between obesity and hearing loss. The results are mixed.
On one hand, several studies indicate hearing loss is more common among people who have obesity, such as this older study that looked at BMI and hearing loss, and this more recent study from Japan. Neither study can show cause and effect, just correlation.
On the other hand, other studies—such as this 2020 study examining the link between body weight and hearing loss—found no such connection. In fact, hearing loss was more common among people who were underweight.
In short: Obesity may or may not impact hearing health.
What we do know: Obesity increases a person's risk of developing heart disease and diabetes. Both can harm hearing.
Blood flow and hearing health
Related conditions that affect blood flow to the ears
Because excess weight makes it difficult for the heart to pump blood throughout the body, obesity can lead to heart disease that leads to hearing loss. In addition to an increased risk of stroke, high blood pressure also increases your risk of developing hearing loss. High blood pressure also can cause pulsatile tinnitus, which is when ear ringing matches your heartbeat and may indicate a serious health problem.
Diabetes is strongly linked to hearing loss. Studies have shown people with diabetes are more than twice as likely to develop hearing loss as those who do not have the disease.
While the relationship between obesity and hearing loss remains complex, it is clear that obesity increases the risk of conditions like heart disease and diabetes, which are strongly linked to hearing impairment
How to get help
If you think you might be suffering from hearing loss, visit our online directory of hearing clinics. You can search by location to find a hearing care provider near you, read reviews and book an appointment.