Hearing loss linked to weight
Hearing loss is generally associated with getting older but a new study says that having a high body mass index (BMI) can also lead to hearing problems.
Researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital found that women with above normal BMI scores are more likely to develop hearing problems. On the flip side, the study found that higher levels of physical activity can actually lower the risk of hearing problems. The findings are published in the American Journal of Medicine.
“We often think of hearing loss as an inevitable part of the aging process, but these findings provide evidence that potentially modifiable risk factors, such as maintaining a healthy weight and staying physically active, may help in the prevention of hearing loss or delay its progression,” said study leader, Dr. Sharon Curhan, in a news release.
Study leaders analyzed data from nearly 70,000 women over a 20-year period and looked closely at BMI, waist circumference, physical activity and self-reported hearing loss.
The analysis showed that those women whose BMI’s were over 40 had a 25 percent higher risk for hearing loss as compared to those with BMI in the normal range of 25 or less. Additionally, women with a BMI of 30-34 were at a 17 percent higher risk.
A bright spot in study linked an active lifestyle to a lower risk of hearing issues. Women who reported being physically active had a 17 percent lower risk of losing their hearing. Just walking two hours a week lowered the risk by 15 percent.
This isn’t the first time hearing loss has been tied to being overweight or obese.
The results of a recent study found that obese teens had increased hearing loss and were nearly two times as likely to have low-frequency hearing deficiencies in at least one ear compared to their normal weight peers. The study was published in the journal The Laryngoscope.
Researchers evaluated national survey data from almost 1,500 adolescents between the ages of 12 and 19. Factors such as noise-exposure history, current medical conditions, medication use and other factors were taken into account.
It was speculated that obesity-induced inflammation may contribute to hearing loss. Researchers noted that low-frequency hearing loss is particularly troubling and could damage the inner ear and get worse with age. The loss could adversely affect “social development, academic performance, and behavioral and cognitive function.”
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