The effects of smoking on hearing

Smoking can have serious effects for your hearing and overall health and wellness. In addition to sound and wax buildup, your hearing can be affected by the overall health and wellness of your body itself.

Research has established a strong correlation between smoking and hearing loss. While the reason for the link is still being researched, clinical studies have found that current smokers are more likely to have hearing loss than non-smokers.

Several theories aim to explain the link:

  • Smoking can damage blood cells, increasing the likelihood of developing arteriosclerosis. The thickening and subsequent hardening of blood vessels can limit the flow of oxygen-rich blood to organs in the body, including the ears.
  • Nicotine and carbon monoxide are thought to deplete oxygen levels in the cochlea causing tissue damage which can lead to hearing loss.
  • Harmful chemicals in cigarette smoke are believed to be ototoxic, or “poisonous to the ears.” Ototoxic chemicals can damage hair cells causing hearing loss. The chemical messengers, or neurotransmitters, along the hearing nerve are also susceptible to the dangerous chemicals in cigarette smoke. Chronic nicotine use can impair neurotransmitter function adversely effecting the brain’s ability to interpret sound.
  • When smoking is combined with additional risk factors for hearing loss, including age and noise exposure, the effects appear to be cumulative. Simply stated, additional risk factors increase the risk for hearing loss more than each factor does on its own.
  • Cigarette smoking can also cause other medical problems such as heart disease which can also lead to hearing loss.

Research has also found a link between people exposed regularly to secondhand smoke and hearing loss, though the prevalence was lower than for smokers.

It is also thought that smoking some e-cigarettes can be ototoxic and lead to hearing loss, although more research is necessary on this subject.

*Some of this content was provided by starkey.com.  At Schmidt’s Optical and Hearing™ we carry Starkey brand hearing aids, including the made for iPhone hearing aid Halo 2.  Call us today at 772-286-4327 and schedule your FREE comprehensive hearing screening with our Board Certified Hearing Aid Specialist.

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