Smokers Are at Greater Risk of Developing Hearing Loss
Smoking cigarettes has been linked to a long list of health concerns such as cancer, heart disease, lung disease, diabetes, COPD and stroke. Recent research has found that smoking can also increase your risk of hearing loss, though fortunately quitting can reduce your level of risk. The findings of this study are summarized below.
About the Study
The study entitled “Cigarette Smoking, Smoking Cessation and Risk of Hearing Loss” was published in The American Journal of Medicine in 2020. Data was collected from more than 80,000 women enrolled in the American Nurses’ Health Study II between 1991 and 2013. 2,760 of these women had been diagnosed with hearing loss.
The participants’ smoking history was gathered in the original study through biennial questionnaires that revealed:
- 66% had never smoked
- 22.4% were past smokers
- 11.1% were current smokers
What the Results Show
Researchers found that there was a trend toward higher risk of moderate to severe hearing loss for women who had more years of smoking history.
However, for past smokers, this risk was significantly less. In fact, the risk level decreased most over the first 10 to 14 years after quitting smoking. This shows that the higher risk of hearing loss associated with smoking cigarettes diminishes over time.
How Smoking Leads to Hearing Loss
Cigarettes contain nicotine and carbon monoxide, both of which can lower your blood oxygen levels and constrict your blood vessels, including within the inner ear. This can lead to hearing loss.
In addition, smoking…
- Blocks neurotransmitters in the auditory nerve, preventing hearing information from getting to the brain
- Aggravates the Eustachian tubes and lining of the middle ear
- Causes free radicals to be released
- Makes you more sensitive to loud noises, which can put you at risk of noise-induced hearing loss
The Importance of Quitting
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 16 million Americans are living with a disease caused by smoking.
Even if you’re not concerned about your own health, secondhand smoke is extremely harmful to those around you. Consider the effects before lighting up a cigarette at Centennial Park while enjoying a socially-distanced meet-up with friends or family. For more information about the risks of smoking cigarettes or to schedule an appointment for a hearing test, call the experts at DeFatta ENT & Facial Plastic Surgery today.