Smoking is well-established as a hazard to overall health. Recently, cigarette smoking has been connected to hearing loss. These new insights first appeared in the Jan 22 issue of the Journal of Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery, published by the American Medical Association. This study is the product of thirty years of cross-sectional research into how cigarettes affect hearing health. In this article, we will review the findings and what you can do to lessen your risk of cigarette smoke and hearing loss.
The published paper entitled “Association of Cigarette Smoking Patterns Over 30 Years With Audiometric Hearing Impairment and Speech-in-Noise Perception.” Comparing the long-term health records of over three thousand patients has confirmed what has been suspected for decades-cigarettes affect hearing.
Can Cigarettes Affect Hearing Health?
Here are some of the effects of smoking-related chemicals on your hearing health:
• Many of the chemicals in cigarettes are free radicals that can increase health-related issues and, worse, damage D.N.A.
• These chemicals found in the smoke can interfere with neurotransmitters and auditory nerves.
• They also irritate the lining of the middle ear and Eustachian tubes.
• Smoking can cause long-term damage to the body by constricting blood vessels due to reduced oxygen levels and hurting sensitive organs, including the inner ear.
• Long-term cigarette smoke exposure can cause adverse issues for children and pregnant women:
• S.I.D.S. (sudden infant death syndrome)
• Complications during pregnancy
• Ear and lung infections
• Increased risk for birth defects
The study also showed minimal differences between direct and secondhand smoke regarding adverse reactions. It also showed that the negative effects improve immediately once indoor airborne smoke exposure is eliminated. Smokers who quit during the study had significant improvements in hearing. Most surprisingly, the study found no significant difference between the effects of secondhand smoke and direct smoking on hearing health.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the benefits of quitting smoking include:
• Smaller chance of developing lung cancer
• Lessened respiratory issues such as shortness of breath, coughing, and wheezing
• Increased fertility
• Lessen your chances of C.O.P.D., a.k.a. chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
• Reduced chance of cardiovascular disease, peripheral vascular disease, and stroke
If you’re inclined to stop smoking but need help figuring out where to begin, contact your healthcare provider to help create a cessation plan, and remember to set up an appointment with a professional audiologist. The benefits of quitting smoking aren’t limited to your hearing; smoking affects all areas of your health.