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The Relationship Between Obesity and Hearing Loss

Dec 27, 2020 | Blog

Obesity is a term we are all likely familiar with. Many people misunderstand obesity as being little more than a cosmetic concern. However, it can be classified as a preventable but complex disease that involves an excessive amount of body fat.

Obesity is more than being overweight. There are several health problems caused by obesity. This condition can increase your risk of several long-term health concerns that are far more dangerous for your health, including heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, and certain types of cancers. Did you know that there has recently been a lot of discussion in the scientific community regarding the relationship between obesity and hearing loss?

It may seem quite unlikely that excessive body fat could cause any problems with your hearing. However, taking a better look at the effects of obesity on your body can help you understand why there could be a more than a plausible link between the two health conditions.

What Exactly is Obesity?

Obesity is more than about being overweight. The condition is diagnosed when an individual’s body mass index (BMI) is 30 or higher. The BMI is determined by dividing your weight in pounds with your height in inches, squared and multiplied by 703. Another way to determine the BMI is by dividing your weight in kilograms by your height in meters squared.

There are varying ranges for BMI that fall into underweight, normal, and overweight classifications. If your BMI is 29.9, you can be considered overweight but not obese.

What Causes Obesity?

Obesity can occur due to several factors. Genetic, behavioral, and hormonal influences on your body weight can result in obesity. However, the basic idea is that your body is consuming more calories than you are burning through normal daily activities and exercise. Your body tends to store all the additional calories in the form of fat in different areas of your body.

Unfortunately, the diet of most people in America is too high in calories – mostly due to all the junk food and sugary drinks. People with obesity are likely to eat more calories before they can feel full, can feel hungry sooner, or eat far more than they need to due to stress or anxiety.

Several risk factors contribute to obesity, including:

● Lifestyle choices like unhealthy diet, liquid calories, inactivity.
● Certain medications and diseases that can lead to weight gain.
● Hormonal changes with advancing age.
● Other factors like pregnancy, quitting smoking, stress, improper sleep, and others.

While having one or more of these risk factors can contribute to obesity, it does not necessarily mean you will certainly develop the problem. It is a preventable disease that you can counteract through dietary and lifestyle changes.

The Link Between Obesity and Your Hearing

Does obesity directly cause hearing loss? The short answer to that is “No,” but there is much more to it than a simple yes or no.

Your ears require a healthy flow of blood and oxygen to function properly and for you to retain proper hearing. While obesity might not directly impact your ears, the various other problems it causes can influence your ability to hear.

The well-known vascular issues resulting from obesity can impact your ability to hear and even result in hearing loss. When an individual is obese, their heart has to work much harder to pump blood throughout the body. The excessive stress on the heart translates to greater pressure in the blood vessels.

The condition is called vasoconstriction, and it puts undue stress on the capillary walls of your inner ear. The tiny hair cells in your inner ear are quite sensitive so that they can pick up the sounds. Vasoconstriction can begin damaging these tiny hair cells in your ear. Gradually, it can limit your ability to hear properly.

Unfortunately, once the hair cells in your inner ear become damaged, they cannot be treated, and the hearing loss can be permanent.

A study conducted in 2013 found that the hearing loss caused by obesity is gradual and begins with higher frequency sounds.

The study observed 68,000 women over two decades. By the time this study concluded, the women with a lower BMI and would exercise more often were less likely to develop hearing loss over time. The subjects who showed signs of obesity were 27% more likely to partially lose their hearing, depending on the severity of their weight-related problems.

Health problems caused by obesity are not limited to adults. A 2012 study observed adolescents to determine the effects of weight problems on their health. The study found that hearing loss was present in over 15% of obese adolescents compared to 8% in the subjects with an ideal BMI.

Taking Control of Your Weight and Preventing Problems Like Hearing Loss

Excessive weight gain poses several risks and complications for your health. It is important to remember that weight gain does not take place overnight. It can take several years to gain weight and become obese, and it can take a lot of years to combat obesity successfully so you can return to a better BMI.

Taking measures to counteract obesity can provide you with several health benefits. Cardio exercises like running and jogging can be a good start to help increase the blood flow and burn the excess fat. If you are currently dealing with obesity, you should also make more of an effort to understand and monitor your hearing.

Ideally, you should work closely with a hearing care professional who can monitor any changes in your hearing as you treat obesity. Taking on weight problems to begin leading a healthy lifestyle can also help you preserve your hearing for far longer.

At Oklahoma Hearing Center, we have a team of expert audiologists and medical doctors at Oklahoma Otolaryngology Associates that provide each patient with unmatched hearing healthcare.

Backed by decades of experience and cutting-edge technology, our experienced professionals can help you get the best possible treatment to meet your needs.

If you need professional help to help you take better care of your hearing, you can always get in touch with us by calling at 405.546.4280 or reach out to us here.