We all know the negative impact that smoking has on your overall health, but did you know that it can even affect your hearing loss? A range of studies conducted over the past few decades have unearthed alarming results regarding the impact that smoking and passive smoking has on participants’ likelihood of developing hearing loss. The correlation between the two lies in the harmful chemicals found in cigarettes and how these directly impact the health of your hearing organs. Here are the ways in which smoking can contribute to hearing loss.
What have studies found?
A 1998 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association researched the link between cigarette smoking and hearing loss and yielded alarming results. It found that smokers are 70% more likely than non-smokers to experience hearing loss, and that non-smokers who live with a smoker are twice as likely to develop hearing loss as those who are not exposed to it. Similarly, a 2011 study conducted by the New York University School of Medicine discovered that teenagers exposed to cigarette smoke are two to three times more likely to develop hearing loss than those who have no exposure.
Furthermore, earlier this year, a Japanese study found that smokers’ likelihood of developing hearing loss increases with every cigarette that they smoke on a typical day. The study also found that smokers are 60% more likely to develop high-frequency hearing loss, which makes it difficult to decipher speech in noisy environments, and 20% more likely to develop low-frequency hearing loss, which makes it challenging to hear deeper voices.
How does smoking contribute to hearing loss?
There are a range of harmful chemicals found in cigarettes, such as nicotine, formaldehyde, arsenic, ammonia, and hydrogen cyanide. Most people recognise nicotine as the chemical that makes cigarettes addictive; however, along with carbon monoxide, it also restricts your oxygen levels and constricts your blood vessels, including those in your ears that are fundamental to the health of its miniscule sensory hair cells. Furthermore, nicotine can affect the neurotransmitters in your auditory nerve, which are responsible for communicating sounds that you hear to your brain.
Smoking can also increase your risk of developing Eustachian Tube Dysfunction, as by damaging the hair in your ear, it affects their ability to move mucus from the middle ear to the back of the nose. This can lead to mucus becoming trapped and accumulating in the Eustachian tubes.
The good news
While these statistics are worrying, studies have also found that it is better late than never in terms of quitting smoking; in fact, the benefits are almost instant. According to the American Lung Association, as soon as 20 minutes after your last cigarette, your blood pressure already begins to decrease, and your circulation improves. Within eight hours, your oxygen and carbon monoxide levels stabilise, and within two days, your sense of smell and taste improve, and your nerve endings start to regenerate. However, it is important to remember that any sensorineural hearing loss that you have developed during your smoking ears cannot be reversed.
Stay on top of your hearing health with The Art of Hearing
If this is the first that you are hearing about the relationship between smoking and hearing loss, it may be time to book your next hearing check with The Art of Hearing. Our expert team of Perth audiologists will be able to conduct a hearing check, assess any damage you may be sustaining, and advise you of the best solutions that will complement your lifestyle. For more information about our hearing solutions, book an appointment through The Art of Hearing website or call us on (08) 9390 8811.