Dropping those extra pounds around the middle could reduce the risk of hearing loss, a study in the American Journal of Medicine shows.
Researchers examined the self-reported hearing loss records of over 68,000 women who participated in the Harvard Nurses’ Health Study from 1989 to 2009. The participants reported their health and daily habits (body mass index (BMI), waist circumference, and physical activity) every other year.
The results of the study showed that a higher BMI, especially a larger waist circumference, increased the risk of hearing loss. Women who were obese (a BMI between 30 and 39) were 17 – 22% more likely to report hearing loss than women with a BMI less than 25.
The findings also suggested that other lifestyle factors such as physical activity (at least walking 2 hours or more per week), decreased the risk of hearing loss.
How does extra body weight contribute to hearing loss?
One type of hearing loss is caused by damage to the inner-ear hair cells. These auditory hair cells are dependent upon blood supply and oxygen; as they are deprived of these nutrients, they slowly start to die off and cannot be repaired.
Obesity comprises blood flow by putting a strain on the walls of your capillaries, thus contributing to the death of these hair cells. Furthermore, the study suggests that excess fat around the middle increases hearing loss risk independently of higher BMI. This type of extra weight creates additional problems such as high cholesterol and high blood pressure, a condition which also increases the risk of hearing loss.
Strive to get healthy this summer
With the warmer weather, you may be encouraged to get out there right away and get moving! But be sure to consult your doctor before starting an exercise or weight loss program. If you have adolescent children, consider talking to them about obesity and hearing loss (a separate study also showed adolescents who were obese were at high risk for hearing loss).
If you think you may be experiencing hearing loss, give us a call (317–292-9854) this summer to schedule a free consultation. There are many causes of hearing loss and we’ll help you determine the best solution for you to be on your way to healthy hearing!