Hearing Loss Research

Can Smoking Increase the Risks of Hearing Loss?

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Smoking cigarettes is the leading preventable cause of death in the U.S. Smoking has an effect on almost every organ in your body. It causes diseases, and has negative implications on the overall health of a smoker.

Generally, most of us acknowledge the danger that smoking poses to your heart and lungs. But what many of us don’t realize is that smoking can affect your hearing. Today, we’re asking ‘can smoking increase the risks of hearing loss?

Smoking & Hearing Loss – The Research

Last year, Reuters published the findings of a study that found smokers had a 60% higher likelihood of developing high frequency hearing loss compared to non-smokers. The study went on to note that the risks increased with every additional cigarette a smoker has throughout the course of a typical day.

Over 50,000 participants were part of the research. Over an 8 year period, the study collected data from annual health checkups. In addition, participants were asked to complete a health-related lifestyle questionnaire.

Researchers looked at the effect that someone’s smoking status had. Were they former or current smokers, or were they someone who had never previously smoked. They assessed the number of cigarettes smoked in an average day, and adjusted for variables such as exposure to high noise in a working environment, for example.

Lead author of the study, Dr. Huanhuan Hu of Japan’s National Center for Global Health, said, “With a large sample size, long follow-up period, and objective assessment of hearing loss, our study provides strong evidence that smoking is an independent risk factor of hearing loss. These results provide strong evidence to support that smoking is a causal factor for hearing loss and emphasize the need for tobacco control to prevent or delay the development of hearing loss.”

Of note is that the study also found that the risks of hearing loss began to decrease within 5 years of quitting smoking.

Unfortunately, it’s not only smokers who are at risk of hearing loss. A JAMA study found that a non-smoker living with a smoker is twice as likely to develop hearing loss compared to someone not exposed to smoking. Another study focused on the risks posed to teenagers who live with a smoker. It found that they their risk of developing hearing loss is 2-3 times more likely than those living with non-smokers.

How Can Smoking Affect Your Hearing?

Cigarette smoke includes carbon monoxide and nicotine. When this is inhaled, either directly through a cigarette or indirectly through second hand smoke, it can cause physiological reactions. These may, in turn, negatively impact your hearing health. These effects can include:

If you are a smoker, the most important step you can take to help protect your hearing and your health is to quit. Your body is incredible at repairing damage; just have a look at this information from the American Lung Association to see how quickly quitting smoking can have positive health benefits. If you need help quitting, check out Freedom from Smoking and Smoke-Free.

Given that it can sometimes take time to notice a hearing loss, if you’re a smoker, we recommend booking yourself in for a hearing assessment. Get in touch with the hearing specialists at Clear Wave Hearing Center. Call us today on 507-208-7002 or click here to book your complimentary hearing assessment today.

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