Obesity and hearing loss: What's the connection?

Does obesity cause hearing loss?

No, but it does increase the risk of other health conditions that are linked to hearing loss, such as high blood pressure and diabetes. 

Our inner ears are a complex system of semi-circular tubes filled with fluid and nerve endings. One of the main components of the auditory system is hair cells, which are responsible for detecting sound, translating it into electrical signals and transmitting it to the brain for interpretation. 

Studies indicate healthy blood flow and oxygen contribute to the health of these hair cells. Since obesity strains the walls of your capillaries, they struggle to transport oxygen to hair cells efficiently. Once these hair cells are damaged, they cannot be regenerated and hearing loss is permanent.

Because excess weight makes it difficult for the heart to pump blood throughout the body, obesity can lead to high blood pressure. Believe it or not, in addition to an increased risk of stroke, high blood pressure also increases your risk of developing hearing loss. High blood pressure also can cause tinnitus, or ringing in the ears. 

Additionally, studies have shown people with diabetes are more than twice as likely to develop hearing loss as those who do not have the disease. Type two diabetes and obesity are strongly linked. 

Tips for driving safely with hearing aids

Before you go

  • Maintain your hearing aids. Feedback from hearing aids is a major distraction, regardless of your activity. Visit your hearing care practitioner regularly, at least every six months, for check-ups and cleanings. Tell them if you’re experiencing feedback or other concerns.

  • Be sure that your hearing aid batteries are fresh. We recommend that hearing aid wearers always carry a spare set of batteries along when leaving the house. If your batteries begin to signal that they are low while you’re driving, do not attempt to change them while the vehicle is in motion. Instead, pull over to a safe area and change them.

While driving

  • Reduce the volume on the car radio. Not only is keeping volume low good for your remaining sense of hearing, you’ll also have more mental energy to concentrate on other noises around you, especially those important for your safety. Here’s a tip: Adjust the volume before you set out on the road so you don’t have to fiddle with the controls while the vehicle is moving.

  • Ask passengers to keep the conversation quiet and to a minimum. While it’s always fun to be part of the conversation, participating in any activity other than driving means your attention isn’t fully focused on the road. If you are having trouble hearing the other people in the car, either as the driver or as the passenger, talk to your hearing care practitioner about technology options that might be available and useful to you.

  • Keep the car window closed to minimize road noise. Today’s vehicles are built to reduce road noise, which is good news for those with hearing loss. Anytime you can reduce the variety of noises competing for your attention, the better you’ll be able to hear the ones you need to.

  • Focus on driving, which means everything else -- like texting, eating or applying makeup -- can wait until you reach your destination. You already know this and have probably said it out loud a time or two to your children or grandchildren. Make this a habit for safety’s sake as well as to model good driving behavior to your young family members.

  • Put the phone away. We suggest you avoid speaking on the phone entirely while driving to allow you to put all of your focus on driving. However, if you must have a phone conversation, you may want to use your hearing aids’ hands-free Bluetooth option, if available. Talk to your hearing care professional about this.

  • If you are stopped by law enforcement while driving, you may wish to respectfully inform them right away that you have hearing loss and are wearing hearing aids so that they can more effectively communicate with you.

Rely on visual clues

Once distractions are minimized, you’ll have more capacity to focus on the information you’re ears are collecting along the way. Here’s how your eyes can help you:

  • Just as you do your hearing, have your eyes examined annually and wear prescription eyewear when you drive. This is important for your safety on the road as well as those who share it with you.

  • Consider investing in a larger rearview mirror, while these don't get rid of blind spots, they may help decrease the need to look over your shoulder. These accessories are available online and range in price from $10-$60. Some states, such as New York, require drivers who wear a hearing aid or can’t pass the hearing test to use a full-view rearview mirror. Check with the Department of Motor Vehicles to see if the same restriction applies in your state.

  • Look for flashing lights on approaching vehicles and at railroad crossings. In the city, use building windows and other reflective surfaces to warn you of approaching emergency vehicles. Check your rearview mirror frequently (and safely) for vehicles approaching from behind.

Five Do's and Don'ts of Living with Tinnitus


  1. Do talk to a hearing health professional if tinnitus is affecting your ability to sleep, read, concentrate or take part in normal activities.

  2. Do realize that every person responds to tinnitus differently. There is no right or wrong way.

  3. Do avoid anxiety and/or stress as it can aggravate tinnitus.

  4. Do look at apps and equipment that can help at bedtime to make falling asleep easier.

  5. Do know that tinnitus can be managed even if it cannot be cured.


  1. Don’t believe everything you read about tinnitus being cured by herbs or supplements. Management via sound therapy or personal devices is the most successful way to treat tinnitus.

  2. Don’t forget that tinnitus can be a symptom of something else, so it is important to have it checked out by a professional.

  3. Don’t forget about things that can aggravate tinnitus like caffeine, lack of sleep, stress, and even aspirin.

  4. Don’t think you are alone!

  5. Don’t forget about hearing protection!Loud sounds and environments can trigger and/or aggravate tinnitus.

12 Signs That You Need Your Hearing Checked

  1. Other people (especially your nearest and dearest) say you you’re not hearing very well – over and over again.

  2. You can’t tell what tree the bird is singing from. Heck, you’re not even sure it is a bird. (Sound location is a challenge with hearing loss.)

  3. Your TV volume is making your family’s ears ring.

  4. Pardon (or what, eh, huh) is your favorite word.

  5. You get nervous in a waiting room, because maybe you won’t hear your name called.

  6. People wave at you to get your attention. (You thought perhaps they were being friendly?)

  7. Parties are no fun anymore, because you have trouble carrying on a conversation (due to background noise).

  8. Your family doctor says your hearing is normal ‘for your age’, but that means you need your hearing checked.

  9. You need people to face you when they speak. You read lips, not the back of heads.

  10. The high, sweet voices of young children are also incomprehensible.

  11. Music and bells are playing in your head – but you’re not connected to a music player.

  12. Romantic ambiance means having all the lights on so you can understand your partner’s love-words.

Greg Moore interviewed about Fly Ottumwa by the Ottumwa Courier

"That included at least one Vietnam veteran eager to see the A-10 Warthog fly.

'I saw one, one time, in Vietnam,' said Greg Moore, now an Ottumwa audiologist known for his dry sense of humor. 'We called one in for air support. I don't know that they called them Warthogs at the time. It was rare for us to request air supports. We always called in artillery.'

Often, those shells came in from sea. When the A-10 came in, it caught the ground troops attention. It wasn't a strafing run, it came in to drop bombs. Moore remembered ing how the aircraft was avoiding the shells from the US Navy ship guns.

Had the paratroopers called for an A-10 specifically?

'No,' he said. 'They don't let you pick the plan you want. You get what they send you.'

He was seated with his family. To the left of their chairs sat a clean, ready to fly A-10. While Moore waited, he enjoyed the other parts of the show, including what he called 'daredevil biplane pilots.'

He also liked the demonstration version of paratroopers.

'The jump team was really great,' he said.

His airborne unit would have been really great, too, right?

'Not quite the same. We had sergeants shouting at us and sort of -- pushing us out of the airplane. It was very different.'

He turned more serious about the last jumper Saturday.

'To watch that, with those accurate parachutes as he came down with the American Flag, it was glorious,'" wrote Mark Newman of the Ottumwa Courier.

Treating hearing loss can have a large impact on income

Research by the non-profit Better Hearing Institute (BHI), looking into the “impact of untreated hearing loss on household income”, resulted in many interesting findings. 

For instance, it found that the use of hearing aids in people with hearing loss “reduced the risk of income loss” by between 65 and 100 percent, depending on the severity of hearing loss; that people with untreated hearing loss had double the unemployment rate as hearing-aided peers; and it revealed these findings.

Did You Know?

  • Tylenol and other pain killers can cause hearing loss if you take more than 2 pills a week for several weeks.

  • Adults with a hearing loss (and no hearing aids) are more likely to develop problems thinking & remembering.

  • When you smoke, you are four times more likely to get hearing loss from noise.

  • Adults with a mild hearing loss (and no hearing aids) are two times more likely to develop dementia.

  • Kissing directly on the ear can cause permanent hearing loss.

  • Waiting until you “really need hearing aids” may result in poorer speech clarity when you do get hearing aids.

  • Untreated sleep apnea puts you at 31% to 90% risk of hearing loss. Untreated sleep apnea has been known to lead to dementia

  • Medicare and Medicare supplements DO NOT cover hearing aids or related things (testing).

  • The most common cause of hearing loss is smoking. This includes second-hand smoke.

  • Speech testing during the hearing test demonstrates the patient’s potential speech  clarity with good hearing aids.

  • Those with diabetes are twice as likely to develop a hearing loss.

  • If you have oily skin, consider water resistant hearing aids for fewer repair problems.

  • Those with rheumatoid arthritis are at significant risk of developing a hearing loss.

  • In-the-ear hearing aids will make your voice echo and need to be repaired more often. Behind-the-ear hearing aids are clearer sounding and need fewer repairs.

  • If you have a moderately-severe or worse hearing loss, don’t get hearing aids that are too small, or you will not hear clearly.

  • For better hearing in background noise with hearing aids, the brain usually has to relearn how to separate out sounds.

    • How would the hearing aids know which person in a group to listen to? It is the brain that does this. Practice improves group listening.

  • Usually new hearing aids are programmed to a soft level when they are dispensed. Otherwise all the new sounds would be too much.

  • Hearing aids that do not block the ear canals  cannot stop background noise from getting into your ear.

  • Storing your hearing aids in a hearing aid drier every night cause the hearing aids to work better and last longer.

  • When you are being dispensed hearing aids request real ear testing with   speech while the hearing aids are in your ears.

  • Hearing aid batteries will last longer when you cover the battery air holes with scotch tape at night. (Then wait 3 minutes before closing the battery door in the morning).

  • Different programs  can be programmed in hearing aids for different listening situations.

  • Advanced hearing aids reduce background noises, are more automatic, and are clearer sounding than basic hearing aids.

  • Mowing the lawn is a common cause of hearing loss by noise in Iowa. Earplugs do not protect your ears from the noise that travels through the bone. Earmuffs are much better.

  • The ringing in your ears does not cause your hearing problems. Your hearing loss is causing the ringing. Improve your hearing and the ringing may disappear.

What is a hearing aid?

A hearing aid is a small electronic device that you wear in or behind your ear. It makes some sounds louder so that a person with hearing loss can listen, communicate, and participate more fully in daily activities. A hearing aid can help people hear more in both quiet and noisy situations. However, only about one out of five people who would benefit from a hearing aid actually uses one.

A hearing aid has three basic parts: a microphone, amplifier, and speaker. The hearing aid receives sound through a microphone, which converts the sound waves to electrical signals and sends them to an amplifier. The amplifier increases the power of the signals and then sends them to the ear through a speaker.

Hearing aids are primarily useful in improving the hearing and speech comprehension of people who have hearing loss that results from damage to the small sensory cells in the inner ear, called hair cells. This type of hearing loss is called sensorineural hearing loss. The damage can occur as a result of disease, aging, or injury from noise or certain medicines.

11 Reasons You Should Get Your Hearing Tested

Hearing loss happens. It’s the third most common health problem in the U.S., according to WebMD. Hearing loss is also very treatable – and more successful when started early. If you suspect you have hearing loss, why not find out for sure?

  1. A hearing test is painless and takes less than an hour. 
  2. Hearing loss may be an early warning sign or red flag for other health conditions including cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
  3. If your hearing test shows your hearing is normal, you can tell your friends to get off your back.
  4. The Mayo Clinic recommends baseline hearing tests for adults.
  5. Untreated hearing loss increases your chance of developing dementia.
  6. Most hearing clinics serve free cookies and coffee. 
  7. Untreated hearing loss increases your chances of falling.
  8. Treating hearing loss with hearing aids is proven to reduce the risk of cognitive decline.
  9. Untreated hearing loss is known to contribute to depression and social isolation.
  10. Hearing loss treatment has been shown to improve earning power.
  11. Because you're proactive about your health and care about your quality of life.

Think you may have a hearing loss? Find out sure by scheduling a hearing loss at the Moore Hearing Clinic. You’ve got nothing to lose and possibly tons to gain.

How to Stay Safe with a Hearing Loss

Hearing loss affects more than 48 million Americans (about 15% of the population) and is the third most prevalent chronic health condition facing older adults. Although digital hearing aid technology is often the recommended treatment for the majority of sensorineural hearing loss cases, less than 20 percent of those who would benefit from treatment actually seek it. Those who do wait an average of 10 years to seek it; most wait until they cannot communicate in even the best of listening situations. 


Studies show that older adults with untreated hearing loss have significantly higher rates of anxiety, depression and social isolation. But with the use of hearing aids, most of these psychological conditions improve. Older adults with hearing aids are more likely to participate in social activities then those who don't have hearing aids. Relationships at home, work, mental health and self confidence improve with hearing aids.

Cognitive Decline

Research discovered that individuals with hearing loss are twice as likely to develop dementia than those with normal hearing. This risk increased three times with moderate hearing loss and up to five times as likely in those with hearing loss.But fortunately, scientists have discovered that with the use of amplification such as hearing aids, dementia improves.

Risk of injury from falling

Another study found that those with a mild hearing loss, were three times more likely to have a history of falling. With every 10db of hearing loss, the risk for potential falls increase by 1.4%. Balance is very "cognitive demanding" just as well as hearing loss is, which means the brain spends extra energy compensating for the hearing loss; it spends less energy on balance.

Reduced alertness

Untreated hearing loss can also lead to your own safety too. If you can't hear well, you may not respond to important danger symbols. You many miss the railroad warnings, police sirens, tornado sirens and smoke detectors. This could lead to not only your personal safety being in danger, but also your loved ones. Studies show that regular smoke detectors are not always effective at waking those with a hearing loss.

** OPEN HOUSE ** From this Thursday through Friday from 8:00 to 5:00

OPEN HOUSE on Thursday, September 14th and Friday, September 15th from 8:00 - 5:00 featuring hearing tests, hearing aid demonstrations, refreshments & discounts on hearing aids. We were recently named the winner the Ottumwa Courier's Best of Southern Iowa 2017 for hearing aids. We're #1. Why settle for #2?

Greg Moore, AuD

What's causing the ringing in my ears?

If you have ringing or hissing or buzzing in your ears, you have what medical experts refer to as “tinnitus."

Experts have tried to pinpoint an exact physiological cause of tinnitus, but the mystery remains unsolved. Exposure to loud noise, head injuries, medication, and even earwax are thought to trigger the onset or worsen existing tinnitus. The sad fact is, science and medical professionals have yet to figure out what causes ringing in the ears. 

Some people experience tinnitus after a single exposure to loud noise. Others attribute their tinnitus to a lifetime of not wearing hearing protection. Still others say their tinnitus started while battling a cold and flying.

What we do know is that tinnitus is too common, affecting 1 in 6 Americans which is over 50 million people. Tinnitus usually accompanies hearing loss, although hearing loss is not believed to be caused by tinnitus. The reverse is also true: Tinnitus is not caused by hearing loss, even when the two are present together.

We also know that however it started, whatever it sounds like, and regardless of whether the tinnitus is mild or severe, each and every tinnitus sufferer wants the same thing — relief.

Is there a way to stop the ringing in your ears? 

Unfortunately, a tinnitus cure is something else science and medical professionals have yet to figure out. But while there is no cure for tinnitus, there are effective treatment options available.

Specially designed hearing aids with tinnitus technology are becoming more popular, as they are proven to help. They deliver a customizable sound stimulus that can soothe the annoying sounds associated with tinnitus and provide relief. 

Facts about Hearing

Why the way you hear is fascinating

Think about it. All of the components of this intricately designed process must work at peak function to carry waves in the air around you to your brain, where they are understood as distinct sounds. Hearing allows you to communicate, learn, experience, and enjoy the world around you.

The following are ten fun facts about hearing:

  1. The smallest bones are the ossicles in the middle ear: the incus, the malleus, and the stapes (also called the anvil, hammer, and stirrup).

  2. The inner ear is no larger than a pencil eraser in circumference.

  3. Your sense of hearing is dependent upon tiny hairs deep inside your ear. If you lose these hairs, you lose your hearing.

  4. You do not need to clean wax out of your ears unless you have an abnormal condition. Ears push excess wax out as needed.

  5. The majority of individuals suffering from hearing loss are under the age of 65.

  6. The number one cause of hearing loss is exposure to excessively loud sounds (85 decibels or higher).

  7. Your hearing can be damaged permanently even after a single incident of exposure to extremely loud noise (shotgun blast, explosion, etc.).

  8. Your ears never stop hearing, even when you sleep. Your brain just ignores incoming sounds.

  9. Your ears are more than just necessary for hearing; they also help you keep your balance.

  10. Not all living creatures hear with ears. Snakes use jawbones, fish respond to pressure changes, and male mosquitoes use antennae.