Many of us know the health risks associated with smoking, but most people don’t realize that besides respiratory problems, heart disease, and cancer, smoking can also put your hearing at risk. Even if you are not a smoker, but live with someone who does, your hearing health is still at risk.
A clinical study that was featured in the Journal of the American Medical Association showed that both smokers and non-smokers alike were at risk for hearing loss. In fact, people who smoke are 70% more likely to experience hearing loss than a non-smoker. The same study also revealed that even non-smokers living with a smoker are twice more likely to develop hearing loss than people who were not exposed to second-hand smoke. Another study that was conducted by NYU’s School of Medicine found that teens that are exposed to cigarette smoke are two to three times more likely to develop hearing loss, compared to teens that have little to no exposure.
Smoking can negatively impact your hearing in multiple ways, such as:
• Smoking cigarettes can cause vertigo, tinnitus, and dizziness.
• Smoking can irritate the lining of the middle ear and the Eustachian tube.
• Chronic nicotine use can negatively affect the brain’s ability to interpret sound and understand speech, by impairing the neurotransmitters between the brain and the ears.
• Carbon monoxide and nicotine can adversely affect the sensitive hair cells (stereocilia) in the cochlea by depleting oxygen levels and constricting blood vessels in your inner ear.
However, it is important to remember that it is never too late to quit. Especially since the longer you smoke cigarettes, the more likely you are to damage your hearing. Stopping will work wonders for your health, as your body starts to heal itself just 20 minutes after your last cigarette! While quitting smoking can be difficult, it is a possible feat. Just remember, there is help available. If you feel like smoking has negatively affected your ability to hear, be sure to consult with a hearing care professional today.