It’s clear that over the long run, eating too much will lead to poor health. Obesity is correlated with several health issues, including diabetes, high cholesterol, and heart disease. But did you know that your weight could also affect the quality of your hearing? While most people would think that weight gain and hearing aren’t connected at all, some studies suggest otherwise. In this guide, let’s explore the connection between obesity and hearing loss.
Understand the Inner Workings of Your Ears
Before we get into the details of how your weight affects your hearing, let’s review the inner workings of your ears. If you’ve ever seen an anatomical drawing of your ear, then you know that it’s essentially a tube filled with air. The air pressure of the outer part of the ear is usually equal to the outside air pressure.
You’ve probably experienced this before: if you’ve ever climbed a mountain, gone underwater, or gone into a room with pressurized air, then you’ve noticed that your ears start to pop. This is because the middle ear, which is filled with air, has a slightly higher pressure than the outside air.
When you’re exposed to a lower pressure environment, the air pressure in your ears becomes equalized with the air around you, which causes your ears to “pop” or “crack.”
So how does obesity affect hearing? Well, everything you experience through your hearing mechanisms is basically an interaction of your eardrum and middle ear. So, if you have a lot of fat tissue in your middle ear, then your eardrum and middle ear won’t be able to communicate as well.
Is There a Connection Between Weight Gain and Hearing Loss?
If you have ever noticed your weight slowly increasing over the years and then suddenly notice that your hearing is declining, you may wonder if there is a possible connection between weight gain and hearing loss. While there is no proven correlation between weight gain and hearing loss, data suggests that there is a very strong correlation between obesity and hearing loss.
In addition to weight gain, there are several other things that could lead to your hearing loss, such as:
- Medical Issues
- Exposure to Loud Noises
- Some Medication
How Does Obesity Affect Hearing?
Studies show that people who are overweight or obese may have conductive hearing loss. This occurs when the middle ear has a higher air pressure, making it more difficult for sound waves to travel from the eardrum to the cochlea.
Hearing loss from obesity can be caused by:
Fatty Tissue Surrounding the Middle Ear – Fatty tissue in the middle ear may lead to constant inflammation and ear infections. This can result in conductive hearing loss, in which sound waves are unable to travel to the eardrum properly, causing reduced hearing.
Increased Pressure Exerted on the Eardrum – Studies have shown that middle ear pressure can increase by roughly 10 pounds for every 15 pounds of body weight. This increase in pressure can make it difficult or impossible for proper hearing to occur.
How to Prevent Hearing Loss Due to Weight Gain
In general, you should try to maintain a healthy weight for your size and gender. You should also try to avoid being exposed to loud noises for long periods of time.
If you are overweight, you can try to reduce your weight by exercising more and eating healthier. If that doesn’t work, you can contact a doctor who can try to help you lose weight safely.
Over the years, your ears are exposed to many different sounds and noises. Exposure to loud noises can cause permanent hearing loss, and weight gain can contribute to hearing loss. While the connection between obesity and hearing loss is still not fully understood, it is clear that it exists. You can reduce your chances of developing hearing loss by eating healthy, avoiding loud noises, and maintaining a healthy weight.
Make sure you take good care of your hearing by working with a hearing care specialist. Hear More Associates is Greater Boston’s most trusted team of hearing care specialists that’s been serving the community for many years. Whenever you need advanced hearing care, we are here to help. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.