The risk of a hearing loss problem is more likely among the aging population. However, obesity and poor diet, have been pointed out as factors that can increase the chances of a hearing loss as age advances.
It is important to note that, obesity is not a causative factor of hearing loss. However, it does increase your chances of developing a hearing loss. This is because it is linked to other health conditions that are directly linked to a hearing loss such as diabetes and high blood pressure.
You might be aware that excess weight is not good for you, but you probably did not know that obesity and hearing loss are closely related.
It doesn’t matter how old you are, obesity and excessive weight gain can constitute serious health issues. This can include your hearing health. Obesity remains a threat in our society today and doctors have found a link between this ear.
According to research, hearing loss ranks as the third most common chronic physical conditions affecting people in the United States today. Since it has been linked to obesity, there is a growing concern about the number of obese people which has continued to grow over the past decades. This number includes teenagers and young adults below the age of 40.
The process of losing the hearing ability is usually slow and therefore, most people do not notice it until it completely goes bad. Damaged hearing ability at a young age can lead to exacerbated hearing loss as the person grows older.
Data obtained from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) shows that the occurrence of Hearing Loss among adolescents in the United States aged 12 to 19 years has relatively been on the increase from 1994-2006. This is for both the high-frequency and low-frequency hearing losses.
Other health challenges that are associated with obesity at a young age include diabetes, hypertension (high blood pressure) depression, diseases, and nonalcoholic fatty liver.
Relationship between Obesity and the hearing ability
The inner ear is a very sensitive and complex organ. There are thousands of tiny hair cells (stereocilia) in the inner ear that respond to sound by bending in response to the sound vibrations it receives. The movement of those hair creates the sensation of sound in your ear. Once this happens, the nerve cells then collect the sound and send them to the brain. While these tiny ear hairs are very sensitive to sound, they are also very delicate. They require a healthy supply of blood flow and oxygen to function properly.
Like the other parts of the body that require a healthy flow of blood and oxygen to function properly, your ear is not an exception. This means that, when vascular issues occur in your body as a result of obesity, this also directly affect your hearing ability. Obesity puts a lot of pressure on the heart—this means that the heart requires more energy to pump blood. When this happens, the tiny hair cells located in the inner ear is left vulnerable. This can lead to a condition known as vasoconstriction which is a condition that puts stress on the capillary walls located in the inner ear. If not controlled over time, this can slowly damage your hearing ability. This condition is irreversible since once these tiny hairs in the inner ear are broken, they can’t grow back by treatment.
Hearing loss caused by obesity usually affects high frequency sounds first. This claim can be found in a report from a 2013 study that is found in the 2013 American Journal of medicine. This research was carried out on 68,000 women and continued for over 20 years. At the end of the research, it was found that women who maintained lower BMI that also engaged in a high level of exercise and physical activities were 17% less susceptible to develop a hearing loss later in life. for those with were obese or showed signs of obesity, their chances of developing a hearing loss later in life are 27% – this figure is dependent on how severe the weight concerns were.
A person suffering from obesity has a strained circulatory system. This leads to increased blood pressure, poor cell oxygenation and blood circulation become relatively reduced. All these factors can be a contributory factor that in turn damages the hairs of the inner ear. This can lead to various forms of hearing problems which can range from tinnitus and severe hearing loss.
Obese people are most likely to become diabetic even at a very tender age. This makes their chances of suffering from a hearing loss twice as high as those with normal BMI. Therefore, we must look to take some time to look at the effect of diabetes on your hearing ability.
Diabetes—what does it mean?
Diabetes is a medical condition that inhibits the production and proper management of insulin by the body. This leads to the buildup of glucose in the bloodstream instead of the normal process of feeding hungry cells. In the last decade, the number of people diagnosed with this medical condition has almost doubled (According to the Diabetes Research Institute Foundation).
The impact of diabetes on the blood flow is also felt by the cells in the inner ear. There are three types of diabetes. Each one is identified by its characteristics.
- Type 1 diabetes: this type of diabetes occurs as a result of the body’s inability to produce the insulin required to move glucose into cells. This is as a result of an autoimmune situation in which the beta cells that produce hormones are attached by the body.
- Type 2 diabetes: in this case, the body is capable of producing its insulin. However, the production is in a very low quantity and as such not sufficient of very effective in moving glucose into the cells.
- Gestational diabetes: this kind of diabetes is not very common and is mostly noticed in pregnant women. In this case, the hormones make the body more resistant to insulin. This kind of diabetes does not last beyond the period of the pregnancy and will naturally disappear with the birth of the baby.
In all the cases of diabetes, the result remains the increase in blood sugar levels that must be managed. Kidney failure, blindness, amputation, stroke, and heart failure are all linked to diabetes. In recent years, diabetes has also been linked with hearing loss. The question now is how does diabetes link to hearing loss? The next subheading will examine the relationship between the two.
What is the relationship between diabetes and hearing loss?
With the rise of hearing loss problems in recent years, 2 separate pieces of research have examined the relationship between hearing loss and diabetes.
The first research carried out in 2008 by the National Institute of Health showed that diabetic patients are at a higher risk of suffering mild to moderate hearing loss. There was a 54% prevalence of high-frequency hearing loss in diabetic patients and about 32% in people that are not diabetic.
Another study carried out in 2012 and was published in the journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism supported the previous report by NIH. This research studied and analyzed the results collected from 13 studies. These studies involved over 20,000 participants and the result was, same as the above; diabetic patients are more likely to suffer a hearing loss than healthy patients irrespective of their age.
While there are no sure facts as to why diabetes cause hearing loss, scientist suspect that high blood glucose levels affect the small blood vessels in the inner ear negatively. Damage to these cells can lead to sensorineural hearing loss. This kind of hearing loss can be corrected with the use of a hearing aid.
Hearing evaluations are used to determine the level of hearing loss and what kind of hearing device is required to correct it. However, it is also important to know that any damage to hearing cannot be reversed but only managed.
Do you have diabetes? These are ways you can keep you safe from a hearing loss
While the damage caused to your hearing as a result of sensorineural hearing loss is irreversible, it is possible to protect your remaining hearing ability before you lose them completely. The following ways are ways to protect your hearing from getting completely damaged.
- Ensure to always keep the volume on your personal electronics device low, this includes televisions and car stereos. Use headphones or invest in disposable earplugs to reduce the amount of sound entering the ear. Also, protect your ears from noisy environments and jobs that are associated with a high level of noise.
- Make exercise a part of your daily routine. The appropriate amount of exercise will help improve blood circulation around the body and even in the ear. Visit a doctor, discuss the best types of exercises you need to engage in to help you keep fit.
- Maintain a healthy weight. By doing so, you are reducing your chances of suffering from a hearing loss.
How to protect your ears and keep your hearing safe
Since the focus is on obesity and how it affects your hearing, the key points here are how to stay fit and reduce your chances of obesity thereby reducing your chances of a hearing loss. It’s a good thing that obesity is not a permanent condition. It can always be reversed. All that is required is a strong determination on the part of the obese person, a good strategy and the right motivations. Results can be achieved.
When it comes to protecting your ears and keeping your hearing safe, below are some of the things you need to do.
1. Watch your diet
Diet is the first thing to put into consideration if you want to stay healthy. Sticking to a healthy diet is the first step to maintaining good health, staying fit and dealing with obesity. Ensure that your diet comprises more of high-fiber, vegetables, healthy fats, and proteins. Maintain a low level of carbohydrates and sugar.
Before starting a diet plan, it is always advisable to visit a nutritionist or dietician for the best guide. He is a well trained professional with the right skills and knowledge to guide you.
2. Improve your exercise routine
Exercise is as important as a good diet. There are a lot of reasons why you need to improve your exercise if you wish to fight obesity and keep your ears safe from hearing loss. Some of the reasons:
- Exercise improves blood circulation: The best way to improve blood circulation and strengthen your heart is through exercise. Exercise can also lower blood pressure and reduces your chances of developing chronic heart disease.
- Exercise helps to improve your metabolism: when you engage in regular exercises, your metabolism is improved. Your body is better conditioned to burn excess calories which can lead to obesity if not controlled.
- Exercise lowers your chances of falling ill: for those who love to stay fit and reduce their chances of falling ill, exercise is very important. exercising regularly will also keep you safe from some of the conditions associated with obesity such as diabetes—which is also linked to hearing loss, chronic heart diseases, stroke, diabetes, and even cancer.
- Exercising is a good way to improve your mood throughout the day: exercising can help increase your energy level and make you feel better. During exercise, the brain releases chemicals known as endorphins. These chemicals interact with the receptors in your brain which reduces how you perceive pain. This means you’re more likely to have a positive feeling during the day’s activities. 20 to 30 minutes of exercise daily can help you stay fit and keep you in a good mood throughout the day. The brain also releases dopamine and serotonin that lasts for a couple of hours after exercise. These chemicals also help you to be happy and stay positive throughout the day. People tend to eat more when they are angry and depressed. Research carried out on obese people show that a large percentage of obsessed people eat more when they are depressed.
It is important to understand that before you start an exercise routine, you need to consult your doctor for advice. He is in the best position to examine and advise you on what best you need. This is most important in the case of older adults.
Remember, when you engage in exercise, the goal is to stay fit. Know when you have overdone it. Do not go over your max—most people make the mistake of overdoing it. This is a result of the wrong belief that the more you do the better the results.
If you are new to exercises, it is important to start with low impact exercises such as yoga, aerobics, and walking exercises.
3. Learn to protect your ears every time
Obesity already puts your ears at a very high risk of damage. You, therefore, would not want to further expose your ears to noises that will increase the chances of your ear getting damaged. This is why you need to take precautions to ensure your hearing is protected. Ensure to wear hearing protections which include earplugs, and earmuffs when you’re in environments with loud noises. It is also important to understand that we get exposed to noises in many ways daily. This includes using the earpiece with a very high volume, lawn mowing, noise from traffic, blenders, etc. be conversant with all these various kinds of noise pollution and know when to protect your ear from one.
4. Seek the help of an audiologist
When it comes to caring for your hearing, it is very important to always talk to your audiologist from time to time. the professional will help carry out a thorough examination on you and determine when you start losing your hearing. He will walk you through a series of treatment processes to identify the best treatment procedure for your hearing loss.
There is a lot of audiologists who are attached to hospitals. It is, therefore, a good move to request for recommendation from your doctor when looking for an audiologist.
Maintain a healthy body and enjoy a better hearing
When it comes to maintaining a healthy body, eating well and engaging actively in exercises are the key factors you need to adhere to. Haven understood the link between a hearing loss and obesity, there is even a greater reason to stay healthy. According to results obtained from professional researches carried out in regards to obesity and its link to hearing loss, we have seen that it is important to stay healthy always to help you maintain a healthy hearing for long.
Gaining weight is something that takes time to happen. Therefore, do not also expect to lose weight overnight. It takes long weeks of exercises, and diets to get back in shape when you are obese. Sometimes, it even takes years to return to a normal BMI.
Cardio exercises which include running and jogging are very important in increasing the blood flow to the cochlea auditory nerves. This also prevents plaque buildup from affecting the blood flow. Why trying to stay fit generally, it is also important to work on your hearing—keep a good relationship with your hearing professional. He will monitor regularly and ensure that your hearing is okay. He also monitors and takes note of the changes in your hearing pattern and recommends a treatment where necessary.
Changes can also occur during exercises for obesity and therefore the hearing professional must monitor those changes to ensure they are safe.
Obesity has continued to pose a great risk to our society today. With more people engaging less in physical activities, the number of obese people is even bound to increase in the coming decades. Today, there are a lot of obese young children not only in the United States but also in other parts of the world. This also means that the number of people with one hearing loss problem or the other is bound to increase with time. Therefore, there is a need for a more decisive action to be taken to control this trend.
While it is true that obesity will not directly cause a hearing loss, it is also important to understand that obesity makes you more susceptible to suffering a hearing loss. We have carefully looked at the following ways in which obesity is linked to hearing loss directly and indirectly.
As people age their hearing capability gradually reduces, the risk is even further increased as a result of obesity. Obese teenagers stand a very high risk of losing their hearing ability at a much younger age.
We also looked at the relationship between obesity and increased chances of diabetes which is more closely related to hearing loss than obesity.
Some of the things that can be done to reduce hearing loss at a younger are to create awareness on why people should stay healthy, fight obesity and stick to healthier diets. A lot of people do not even take enough time to watch out for their health especially when it comes to knowing their BMI. They feel it’s just okay to hit the bathroom scale and be fine with the results without visiting a professional to help determine if you are of the proper weight.
A lot more people need to be sensitized and properly motivated to engage more in physical exercises. They need to understand that it is okay and more beneficial to walk if the distance is one you can walk. Stay off junk foods as much as possible and stick to healthy vegetables and fruits.
Besides protecting your ears from hearing loss, preventing obesity can help increase your confidence. Most obese people are not confident with their looks. this is one reason they are mostly found depressed and unhappy. The more you work on your physical posture, the bolder you will be to properly face the activities of the day.