A Link between Hearing Loss and Second-Hand Smoke

If giving up smoking to avoid the risk of harming yourself isn’t enough, you might quit based on the harmful effects it has on others. Smoking harms your body and respiratory systems of those around you. A new study from Kyoto University reports tobacco smoke exposure in young children increases risks for hearing loss.

Smoking damages your own hearing

A smoking habit increases the risk of hearing loss as much as 15.1% compared to non-smokers. This is in addition to the known side effects it can have on a person’s respiratory system. It also increases the risk of lung cancer tremendously. In fact, cigarette smoking is the number one risk factor for lung cancer.

Smoking can impact those around you

But if that’s not reason enough to stop this habit, consider its impact on those you love. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), second-hand smoke can lead to heart disease and cancer deaths. And now, add an increased risk of hearing a loss to that equation.

The link between smoking and hearing loss

There is not much information on the link between smoking and hearing loss. However, it might be related to the high number of harmful chemicals in cigarette smoke. The formaldehyde, benzene, arsenic, vinyl chloride, ammonia, and hydrogen cyanide may do significant damage. What’s more, nicotine and carbon monoxide cause oxygen levels to decrease and constrict blood vessels, including inner ear vessels.

Hindering development

Children exposed to second-hand smoke may have even more at stake. The auditory nerve receives sound information gathered by the cells of the inner ear. The sound then goes to the brain for processing. This very important auditory nerve does not fully develop until late adolescence. Exposure to second-hand smoke may alter its development. Teens exposed to cigarette smoke are two to three times more likely to develop hearing loss.

The evidence continues to accumulate

The data continues to mount in support of a strong link between hearing loss and second-hand smoke. The study out of Kyoto University examined the hearing of 50,734 children born between 2004 and 2010.

The researchers were using a whispering voice test for evaluation. They did find that children with mothers who were smoking had a 26% higher risk of hearing loss. Of those children, the risk factor for those who had smoke exposure between birth and four months increased to a whopping 30%. The most vulnerable population is those whose mothers smoked during pregnancy. These children had an alarmingly high risk of hearing loss. ?They were 70% more likely to develop hearing loss than children who had zero exposure to tobacco smoke at all.

Support for smoking cessation

The effects of second-hand smoke go beyond exposure during childhood. Non-smokers who simply live with a smoker are 1.94 times more likely to experience hearing problems than those who have zero smoke exposure. Hearing loss of this type is irreversible. In addition, it can have negative emotional and mental effects that go beyond the physical loss of hearing.

Hopefully, you desire to quit smoking because it’s harming your own health. Putting those you love at risk is quite another issue. Know that there are resources out there to help you choose a healthier lifestyle. Smokefree.gov is a platform that covers how to stop smoking from start to finish. They can take you from just thinking about quitting to plotting your strategy. You can even sign up to receive supportive text messages! They can provide the emotional support needed for such a tough endeavor!

Healthy hearing strategy

If you suspect hearing loss as a result of second-hand smoke, the next step is to schedule a hearing test. It’s quick and painless, and once our team has a diagnosis, you can begin to explore the next steps in hearing loss treatment to get you back to living your healthiest and most vibrant life.

Jesse Hidalgo, BC-HIS

Jesse is Board Certified in Hearing Instruments and has built over 25 practices during his business career starting in 1998. Using his training in Hearing Instrument Sciences he has helped thousands of patients across those practices hear better.
Published: July 18, 2018
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