Obese? Now Teens May Go Deaf, Too

Now, this will astonish you.  And break your heart.  But a new study has found that obesity in teens can lead to hearing loss.

Growing up with a deaf mother and grandmother, I know how debilitating this is.  My mother wasn't able to have a conversation with her mother until she was 16 years old.

A story in today's New York Times reports that "the definition of obesity in teenagers — was independently associated with poorer hearing over all frequencies, and with almost double the risk of low-frequency hearing loss in one ear."   Even worse, researchers suggest that this may be the early signs of losing your hearing in both ears, as happens in adults.

That bad boy, inflammation, is at work here, too. It's thought that, when it's induced by obesity, it "may be a factor in organ damage," Nicholas Bakalar writes. (Inflammation is also a player in cancer and heart disease.)

Losing weight, of course, would help, but so would early intervention, doctors believe.  In the meantime, value your hearing and don't go to too many concerts.  (We have a friend who lost complete hearing in one ear and is losing it in the other, after being in a band in the '70s.)


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