Need another reason to eat a healthy diet, exercise, and maintain an ideal body weight? To safeguard your hearing. Researchers have reported a link between obesity and hearing loss.
A 10-year study from the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston followed more than 100,000 women, aged 25-42 from 14 states. Scientists analyzed women’s body mass index (BMI), waist circumference, and physical activity. The findings revealed that women with an optimal BMI of less than 25, and a waist smaller than 28 inches, had a relatively lower risk for hearing loss. Women with waist measurements greater than 35 inches were more likely to experience hearing loss.
A Harvard Nurses’ Health Study also revealed a higher rate of hearing loss among obese participants, even after researchers controlled other variables, such as smoking cigarettes and using medications.
The reason? Blood flow, according to Audiologist Dr. Susan Rogan, Susan Rogan Hearing, who practices in Westmont and LaGrange Park. Obesity puts a strain on the walls of blood vessels, which disrupts the flow of nourishing blood and oxygen to the tiny hair cells in the ear, which can be damaging. Obesity can also cause high blood pressure, plus allow harmful plaque to build up in the arteries, which may constrict blood flow to the inner ear’s cochlea.
What helps? Exercise, reports WebMD. Activity increases blood flow, and can protect against cell damage throughout the body. “Women who walked for four or more hours each week saw their risk for hearing loss drop by about 15 percent, compared to women who walked less than an hour a week.”