In addition to cancer, heart disease, stroke, lung disease, diabetes and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), smoking cigarettes is linked to hearing loss. Smoking doesn’t just put yourself at risk, but also those around you. We explore this link in more detail below.
What the Studies Show
There has been a lot of research on the link between smoking and hearing loss.
- A study published in Nicotine & Tobacco Research in 2019 found that smokers are 60% more likely to develop high-frequency hearing loss than nonsmokers.
- Research published in Archives of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery in 2014 uncovered that teens exposed to cigarette smoke are two to three times more likely to develop hearing loss compared to those with little or no exposure.
- An older study published in JAMA in 1998 found that nonsmokers living with smokers were twice as likely to develop hearing loss compared to those who were not exposed at all.
- The CDC reports that exposure to secondhand smoke causes numerous health problems in children, including ear infections, which can lead to conductive hearing loss.
- A review of 20 studies found sufficient evidence that smoking is associated with tinnitus, or ringing in the ears.
How Smoking Can Impact Your Hearing
Both nicotine and carbon monoxide, which can be found in cigarettes, lower blood oxygen levels and constrict blood vessels. Because the inner ears rely on a healthy supply of oxygen from the blood, smoking cigarettes can cause damage to the delicate cells within the cochlea. These cells are responsible for converting soundwaves into electrical energy that the brain interprets as sound.
Nicotine and cigarette smoke also can:
- Interfere with the neurotransmitters in the auditory nerve.
- Irritate the lining of the middle ear and the Eustachian tubes.
- Release free radicals that cause disease.
- Sensitize you to loud noises like a strike at Peach Bowl Lanes, making you more susceptible to noise-induced hearing loss.
Resources for Quitting Smoking
While quitting smoking won’t reverse the damage already done to your ears, it can certainly prevent future damage.
If you’re not sure where to start, consider visiting smokefree.gov for tips to create a plan to quit. You can also check out the American Lung Association’s online Freedom from Smoking program, which teaches you skills and techniques to help you quit once and for all. To learn more or to schedule an appointment, call Spartanburg | Greer ENT & Allergy today.