Smoking is well-established as a contributor to several health conditions, including hearing loss. A recent study has shown the connection to hearing loss correlates with the frequency of smoking, and quitting smoking removes that risk, even for a short time.
Effects of Smoking
Cigarette smoke is filled with nicotine, a highly addictive and toxic chemical. Nicotine has several negative effects on various aspects of health and increases blood pressure, elevates heart rate and constricts blood vessels. The inner ear is sensitive to blood flow, making it vulnerable to harm. The use of nicotine risks damaging the blood vessels in the inner ear, impacting hearing.
In addition to compromising blood flow to the inner ear, nicotine and cigarette smoke pose other harmful risks to overall health and hearing.
- The release of toxins in cigarette smoke can damage DNA, increasing the risk of various diseases.
- Smokers are more susceptible to loud noises and are at a higher risk for noise-induced hearing loss.
- Smoking damages the Eustachian tube and lining of the middle ear.
- Smoking interferes with the auditory nerve, impacting hearing.
- It weakens the immune system and damages tissue in the ear, nose and throat, making you more susceptible to ear infections.
- Cigarette smoke also contributes to tinnitus, the perception of ringing or buzzing sounds in one or both ears via the same methods that impacts hearing loss.
If you have questions about the negative effects of smoking on hearing loss, talk to your doctor. They can also assist you with finding tobacco cessation resources.
Impacts of Quitting
Tobacco cessation has several health benefits, including lowering the risk of heart disease, infertility and certain types of cancers, according to the CDC. Beyond reducing the risk of heart and lung disease, quitting smoking significantly improves hearing health.
The 2019 study conducted across 50,195 people aged 20–64 years concluded that quitting smoking virtually eliminates excess risk of hearing loss, even for those with a brief duration of cessation. The study also emphasizes the correlation between the amount of smoking and the likelihood of developing hearing loss after smoking more frequently.
While sensorineural hearing loss developed during smoking may not be reversible, ceasing smoking can prevent further damage. The decision to quit smoking not only positively impacts overall health but also plays a crucial role in preserving and protecting auditory function.
To learn more about hearing loss or schedule a hearing test, contact Gary D. Schwartzberg Au.D..