Smoking is an unhealthy habit that can affect more than just your lungs. We know that cigarettes can contribute to allergies, chronic bronchitis, cancer, emphysema, and can affect the body’s ability to hear. Still, many are not aware of the link between cigarette smoking and hearing loss.
How are Cigarette Smoking and Hearing Loss Related?
Many studies show a correlation between cigarette smoking and hearing loss. When you smoke a cigarette, you are exposed to a myriad of dangerous chemicals. Carbon monoxide and nicotine can constrict blood vessels and deplete oxygen levels in the body. Plus, you add hydrogen cyanide, formaldehyde, vinyl chloride, benzene, ammonia, and arsenic to the mix, and it creates a recipe for disaster. Ears are a sensitive organ, and these chemicals can damage the delicate hair cells that line the cochlea. Smoking cigarettes also can affect your body in other ways:
• Nicotine can cause vertigo, tinnitus, and dizziness
• The lining of the middle ear can become irritated by smoking
• Smoking can aggravate the Eustachian tube
• Can deplete oxygen levels in the cochlea
• Cigarettes can interfere with the neurotransmitters in the auditory nerve
• Increases noise sensitivity, which can make a person more susceptible to developing noise-induced hearing loss
• Smoking cigarettes can create free radicals in the body, which can cause disease and damage DNA
Since the auditory nerve does not develop fully until late adolescence, teenagers have a higher risk of developing hearing loss. However, research has shown that the link between cigarette smoking and hearing loss is something that can affect anyone of any age. While this information has been available for quite some time, many are not aware of the risks. In 1998, a study titled “Cigarette Smoking and Hearing Loss – The Epidemiology of Hearing Loss Study” was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, and it concluded that the risk of hearing loss increases with the number of cigarettes smoked.
If you have suffered sensorineural hearing loss due to smoking, quitting will help prevent any further damage from occurring. If you smoke and still have the ability to hear, heed this warning and drop the habit. Most importantly, if you believe you are experiencing hearing loss due to cigarettes, or are just concerned about your hearing, visit your local hearing healthcare professional.