The consequences of smoking on hearing

Last update on Oct, 19, 2021

Smoking is bad. Not only to the lungs and heart, but also to hearing. The correlation between smoking and hearing is now confirmed by several studies, which have found a much higher incidence on hearing loss in smokers than in non-smokers. Let's try to understand more on this link between hearing loss and cigarette smoking with a deep-dive the results of the study, conducted in Japan.

Why is smoking bad for your hearing?

Exposure to cigarette smoke is one of the main risk factors of hearing loss. The reasons are not clear yet: some believe that the toxins emanating from cigarettes damage the cells of the inner ear, increasing the risk of inflammation and reducing the flow of blood to the cochlea. Other people, on the other hand, consider it an indirect link, given the fact that those who smoke often suffer from cardiovascular diseases, directly related to hearing loss. The fact is that smokers have a 70% greater risk of suffering from hearing loss than a person who does not smoke.

The Japanes study on the link between smoking and hearing loss

A recent Japanese study, conducted by Japan's National Center for Global Health and Medicine, published in the journal Nicotine & Tobacco Research and carried out by Huanhuan Hu, Ph.D, showed that nicotine negatively affects individuals' ability to hear well, highlighting the need to prevent or delay the development of hearing loss.

The study was carried out on a sample of over 50,000 people, without obvious hearing problems, who underwent periodic audiometric tests every year for eight years, to check the state of their hearing. Well, the results that have emerged are staggering: among those who had never smoked, about 8 out of 1,000 each year developed some form of hearing loss; this ratio rises to 15 in 1,000 for smokers. In practice, an almost double incidence of hearing loss was found among smokers, compared to non-smokers.

Although the conclusions of this analysis leave no room for interpretation, two positive aspects also emerged:

  • The probability of losing hearing is directly proportional to the number of cigarettes smoked.
  • The risk of hearing loss is significantly reduced among those who have quit smoking for at least five years.

Although there was no need, the results of this study provide an extra motivation for choosing to quit smoking: the awareness of being able to damage an organ apparently as distant from cigarettes as the ear, should make us reflect on the negative consequences that the the habit of smoking has an effect on health in general.

The other three main risk factors of hearing loss

Smoking is only one of the four main factors that can cause hearing problems.

The other three are:

  • Diabetes. Diabetics have a 30% higher hearing loss rate than non-diabetics.
  • Heart problems. Incorrect blood flow can contribute to the onset of hearing loss.
  • Hypertension. High blood pressure is a factor that accelerates the degeneration of the hearing system.

Anyone belonging to one of these four risk categories should carry out periodic checks and book an appointment with a specialist to check the health of their hearing system and prevent any future problems.

Amplifon online hearing test

As we have just explained, smoking can make your hearing less effective. If you have recently started noticing some difficulty hearing well, try our free online hearing test now.

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