Obesity and hearing loss
If your favorite pair of jeans doesn’t fit the way it used to, and you’re planning to buy a bigger size, reconsider. Your health - including your hearing health - may benefit if you lose the extra weight instead.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in 2011-2014, more than one third of all adults in the United States were obese. 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.
Excess weight and hearing loss
Our inner ears are a complex system of semi-circular tubes filled with fluid and nerve endings. One of the main components of the auditory system is hair cells which are responsible for detecting sound, translating it into electrical signals and transmitting it to the brain for interpretation.
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 hair cells efficiently. Once these hair cells are damaged, they cannot be regenerated and hearing loss is permanent.
Because excess weight makes it difficult for your heart to pump blood throughout 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.
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 puts 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. Studies have shown people with diabetes are more than twice as likely to develop hearing loss as those who do not have the disease.
Resolve to get healthy
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 safely.
Before you begin a weight loss program, schedule a visit with your doctor. Your trusted physician can determine if you’re healthy enough to get started and suggest the right programs for you. Any good plan should include a healthy diet and appropriate exercise for your level of fitness.
There is a lot of confusing and sometimes contradictory nutrition advice on the market, so do your homework. Avoid diet trends or anything that promises dramatic results with little effort or time. Changing your diet for the better is a big change and, ideally, will become a new way of life. And here’s a bonus: eating nutrient-rich foods is also good for your hearing health.
If you’ve recognized that you need to lose some weight, 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, schedule an appointment with your hearing healthcare professional.