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The Relationship Between Obesity and Hearing Loss

Monday, July 31, 2017 9:22:34 AM Australia/Melbourne

The Relationship Between Obesity and Hearing LossIt’s something that we frequently discuss on the Hearlink blog—the interdependencies of different elements of your health, specifically how hearing loss can interact with other illnesses, injuries and health implications. It may come as a surprise to many, the number of other areas of your life that can be affected by poor hearing. One of these is your weight. According to new findings by the Harvard Nurses’ Health Study, the pounds that you gain around your waist, can raise risk of hearing loss as well.


The specific study released by Harvard Nurses’ Health Study, and published in the American Medical Association, followed 68,000 women. They were tracked between the years of 1989 and 2009. Every two years, those administering the study checked in with every woman participating and asked detailed questions about her health and specifically her hearing, and at the end of the study- one in every six women reported a degree of hearing loss. The participants’ body mass index and weight were measured as well. Those facilitating the study noticed a correlation between the different variables, right off of the bat.


Highlights from the study include:

  • Obese women with a body mass index (BMI) of 30–39 were 17%–22% more likely to suffer from hearing loss than women with a BMI lower than 25, and women with a BMI of 40 or greater had a 25% higher risk of hearing loss.
  • Women with a waist size of more than 34 inches had a 27% higher risk suffering from hearing loss than those women with a waist size of less than 28 inches. This suggested to the facilitators that carrying a lot of belly fat may impact hearing.
  • These differences remained even after researchers controlled for other variables that can affect hearing. These include cigarette smoking, medication, and the variety of a person’s diet. 
  • Greater levels of physical activity are associated with a lower risk for hearing loss. For women who walked four or more hours each week, the risk of hearing loss dropped by 15%, compared to women who walked less than an hour each week.


So, what’s the connection? How can the weight you gain possibly impact the quality of your hearing? Hearlink decided to do some digging. One of the biggest common denominators is blood flow. Our ears are metabolically active. They need a steady stream of blood, in order to properly function. Those who suffer from weight gain, and specifically obesity, have much more narrow blood vessels. This causes a chain reaction. Constricted blood vessels mean an increase in blood pressure. This negatively impacts the blood flow, inherently affecting your cochlea—which plays a major role in the operations of your ears. Your cochlea is responsible for the nerve endings that then carry information to the brain.


Luckily, early awareness is the best way to prevent both weight gain and hearing loss. Both audiologists and general doctors recommend a healthy, balanced diet and regular activity to be your healthiest.

Posted in Industry News By

Hearlink Admin