Yes, one more reason (if you needed any) to kick the habit for good!
According to a published report on Audiology Online from Western Michigan University, which was recently summarised in the Hearing Care Blog, a study of more than 3,000 people showed that smokers were nearly 70% more likely than nonsmokers to suffer hearing loss.
Even passive smokers are 28% more likely to develop hearing loss than non-smokers! Especially children exposed to cigarette smoke are very vulnerable.
The effect on hearing is mainly based on three considerations:
• Hypoxia, lack of oxygen: Nicotine and carbon monoxide may actually deplete oxygen levels to the cochlea (the auditory portion of the inner ear), which is bathed in fluids and blood supply. Like any part of the body, if oxygen is drained, tissue damage can occur.
• Interaction between nicotine and neurotransmitters in the auditory (hearing) nerve. Neurotransmitters essentially function as chemical messengers. If they are impaired, they can no longer tell the brain what is occurring along the hearing nerve.
• Adolescent smoking. Mechanisms within the hearing nerve are not fully developed until late adolescence; thus, the hearing nerve pathways are particularly susceptible to damage, if toxins like nicotine are introduced early in life.
Dr. Ralph Holme, head of biomedical research at Action on Hearing Loss in the UK, says:
“Hearing loss is often viewed as an inevitable consequence of aging, but as the research published today shows, this may not always be the case. Giving up smoking and protecting your ears from loud noise are two practical steps people can take today to prevent hearing loss later in life.”
If you are a smoker, or have smoked previously in life, you might want to take a hearing test to see if your hearing has been affected. Find a hearing care clinic near you by using this tool.