Smoking cigarettes is an unhealthy habit that has been linked to cancer, heart disease and strokes. While previous studies have explored the relationship between smokers and an increased risk of developing hearing loss, researchers at Johns Hopkins, Harvard Medical School, Massachusetts Eye and Ear and Vanderbilt sought to uncover whether this connection was still there for those who have quit smoking.
Connection Between Hearing and Smoking
Nicotine and carbon monoxide are both found in cigarettes. They can lower your blood oxygen levels and constrict your blood vessels. When this happens in the inner ear, it can lead to hearing loss.
In addition, smoking can:
- Block neurotransmitters in the auditory nerve, preventing hearing information from getting to the brain
- Aggravate the Eustachian tube and lining of the middle ear
- Cause free radicals to be released
- Make you more sensitive to loud noises, which can put you at risk of noise-induced hearing loss
Cigarette Smoking, Smoking Cessation, & Risk of Hearing Loss in Women
This study, published in the October 2020 issue of American Journal of Medicine examined data from 81,5050 women. Through validated biennial questionnaires, information on the participants’ smoking and hearing status was collected.
Of the participants, 2,760 reported that they had developed hearing loss. The smoking status of participants was broken down as follows:
- 5% never smoked
- 4% were past smokers
- 1% were current smokers
Unsurprisingly, the researchers found that there was a trend toward a higher risk of moderate or severe hearing loss for the women with more years of smoking history.
For past smokers, this elevated risk of developing hearing loss decreased most over the first 10 to 14 years after quitting smoking.
This tells us that the higher risk of hearing loss associated with smoking may diminish over time after quitting.
Should You Quit Smoking?
Yes. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 16 million Americans are living with a disease caused by smoking. In addition to hearing loss, smoking can cause:
- Heart disease
- Lung disease
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
Even if you are not worried about your own health, secondhand smoke exposure can harm those around you. Consider this before lighting up a cigarette when you’re spending socially-distanced time with loved ones at Conejo Creek North Park.
To learn more about the damage smoking can have on your hearing or to schedule an appointment for a hearing test, contact Decibel Hearing today.