If you smoke, there is a higher chance that you’ll eventually find yourself wearing hearing aids. That’s because there’s a well-established link between smoking and hearing loss. Additionally, even exposure to smoking (e.g. secondhand or in utero) can negatively impact the health of your hearing.
What Research Says on the Matter
This is something that’s backed by studies like the one done by Reuters News that discovered smokers are 60% more likely than non-smokers to develop high-frequency hearing loss. Older studies have also found similar patterns even among non-smokers who live with smokers. Such studies show these people are two times more likely to suffer from hearing loss than those who were never exposed to it.
These studies also show that youth’s hearing health is also at risk. Teens who are exposed to cigarette smoke are at least twice as likely to develop hearing loss than those who have little to no exposure.
How Smoking Affects Your Hearing
Nicotine and carbon monoxide are both known to lower a person’s blood oxygen levels and constrict blood vessels throughout their body – even those inside your ear that are responsible for good hearing. Additionally, nicotine:
- Interferes with the neurotransmitters that are in your auditory nerve: These are what tell your brain the sounds you’re hearing.
- Irritate your middle ear lining and Eustachian tube
- Trigger the release of free radicals: This causes disease since it damages your DNA.
- Makes you more sensitive to loud noises
- Causes tinnitus (ringing in your ears): Studies show that at the very least smoking leads to higher rates of tinnitus. As such, if you already suffer from tinnitus, you should know that smoking could make it worse.
- Causes ear infections: Smoking weakens your immune system and damages tissues in your nose and throat. Children who are exposed to secondhand smoke will not only get more ear infections, they’ll also have more frequent and severe asthma attacks and respiratory infections.
- Pregnant women who smoke can harm their baby’s hearing
Smoking vs. Vaping
Vaping is now commonly replacing smoking. Unfortunately, vaping does contain some of the same dangerous chemicals that cigarettes contain. Nobody is sure if it’s safer for your hearing either.
The Good News
The American Lung Association says that 20 minutes after you’ve had your last cigarette your blood pressure will decrease, and your circulation will improve. However, it takes 8 hours for your oxygen and carbon monoxide levels to return to normal. It’ll also take 48 hours for your sense of taste and smell to improve because your nerve endings need to start to regenerate. These aren’t the only benefits you’ll reap when you stop smoking. You’ll also have a lower risk of:
- Coronary heart disease
- Peripheral vascular disease
- Respiratory symptoms (e.g. coughing, shortness of breath, wheezing)
- COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)
- Infertility – especially if you’re a woman in your reproductive years
These are some great reasons to quit and there are many ways you can do so today. Your doctor and the American Lung Association will have tips to help you do so.
When You’ve Already Lost Your Hearing
Anyone who already has hearing problems should make it a priority to stop smoking. You should also visit the hearing loss specialists at Countryside Hearing Aid Services to have an exam. Countryside Hearing Aids has been family owned and operated since 1979. They are a BBB Accredited A+ business and can be a significant help in helping with hearing loss.
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