Blog post

The link between smoking and hearing loss

We all know that smoking can harm your lungs and throat, but the connection between smoking and your hearing is far more complex.

Research carried out by Piers Dawes, a lead researcher, says that the most likely reason that smoking and hearing loss are related is that smoking causes cardiovascular disease.

Key findings:

  • Current smokers have a 15.1 percent higher chance of hearing loss
  • Heavier smokers had a higher risk of hearing loss than lighter smokers
  • Second-hand smoke exposure of more than 10 hours per week was associated with a ~40 percent increased risk of hearing loss
  • Ex-smokers had no extra risk of hearing loss

How are smoking and hearing loss related?

The myriad of chemicals in cigarette smoke, including formaldehyde, benzene, arsenic, vinyl chloride, ammonia, and hydrogen cyanide, may affect both conductive hearing (middle ear vibrations) as well as inner ear hearing by damaging the hair cells lining the cochlea.

Nicotine and carbon monoxide deplete oxygen levels and constrict blood vessels all over your body – including those in your inner ear responsible for maintaining hair cell health.

In many studies, there is also a strong correlation between the number of cigarettes smoked and the degree of hearing loss. In other words, smoking-related hearing loss is dose-dependent

What about passive smoke?

Your smoking habit is not only affecting your hearing; it is also affecting those around you.

The auditory nerve is not fully developed until late adolescence, which means that passive smoking puts adolescents at increased risk for hearing loss (corroborated by the 2013 study mentioned above).

Teens exposed to cigarette smoke are two to three times as likely to develop hearing loss compared to those with little or no exposure.

This is also concerning when it comes to children who are exposed to passive smoking as their auditory system is usually not fully developed until late adolescence.

Support to quit smoking

It can naturally be hard and scary to quit something, especially if it's a coping strategy.

NHS Smokefree is a free service to help you quit smoking. The service offers tailored advice and a community to help keep your motivation high and support when you're struggling.

See the benefits yourself by starting your journey today!

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