The Link Between Obesity and Hearing Loss

No matter your age or gender, obesity and other weight-related issues can have serious consequences for your overall health, including your hearing. As obesity continues to pose a threat to the global population, doctors have found a link between this condition to an increased risk of hearing loss.

Obesity and your hearing

Your ears require a healthy flow of blood and oxygen to function properly, so it follows that vascular issues that result from obesity will directly impact your ability to hear. The presence of obesity forces the heart to use more energy when pumping blood, leaving the tiny hair cells in your inner ear vulnerable. This condition, referred to by doctors as vasoconstriction, puts stress on the capillary walls of the inner ear and over time will limit your ability to hear normally. Unfortunately, once these hair cells have been damaged, they cannot grow back or be treated.

When obesity affects hearing, it is the higher frequencies of sound that are usually the first to go. This is according to a 2013 study in the American Journal of Medicine that measured 68,000 women over the course of twenty years. By the end of the study, those who maintained a lower body mass index (BMI) and engaged in higher levels of physical activity were 17 percent less likely to develop a hearing loss over time. Those who showed signs of obesity, however, were up to 27 percent more likely to lose some hearing depending on the severity of their weight concerns.

Other conditions related to obesity

Cardiovascular issues are only one of the causes of hearing loss related to obesity. Conditions such as diabetes and heart disease are also more likely to develop as a result of excess weight gain. Once heart disease has reduced circulation in your body, your ears are quickly robbed of the nutrients they need to function properly. Those with Type 2 diabetes should also consider visiting a hearing care professional as soon as possible, as this condition nearly doubles the risk of hearing loss.

Young people are not immune to complications resulting from obesity. In a 2012 study that looked at adolescents, hearing loss was present in more than 15 percent of those who were obese compared to just 8 percent with healthier weights.

Taking control of your health

Weight gain doesn’t happen overnight, and it can take years to treat obesity and return to a healthy BMI. Cardio exercises such as running and jogging are known to increase blood flow and prevent plaque buildup from reducing blood flow to the cochlea and auditory nerve. While working on your fitness and overall health, it is important to maintain a strong relationship with your hearing care professional to monitor any changes in your hearing ability that may occur as you treat obesity. In some cases, being prescribed with hearing aids may also relieve symptoms of depression and anxiety that can make it difficult to take control of your health or find motivation to exercise.

If you or a loved one is ready to finally tackle their weight gain and begin leading a healthy lifestyle that will preserve your hearing for years to come, you can use our online locator to find a hearing care professional in your area that can examine your hearing and prescribe the best hearing aids.