We all know that smoking can harm your lungs and throat, but the connection between smoking and your hearing is far more complex. Research carried out by Piers Dawes, a lead researcher on the study, says that the most likely reason that smoking and hearing loss are related is that smoking causes cardiovascular disease.
- Large Study – Data came from 164,700 adults in the United Kingdom
- Current smokers have a 15.1 percent higher chance of hearing loss
- Ex-smokers had no extra risk of hearing loss
- Heavier smokers had a higher risk of hearing loss than lighter smokers
- Second-hand smoke exposure of more than 10 hours per week was associated with a ~40 percent increased risk of hearing loss
So, how are smoking and hearing loss related?
The myriad of dangerous chemicals in cigarette smoke, including formaldehyde, benzene, arsenic, vinyl chloride, ammonia, and hydrogen cyanide, may affect both conductive hearing (middle ear vibrations) as well as inner ear hearing by damaging the hair cells lining the cochlea. In many studies, there is also a strong correlation between the number of cigarettes smoked and the degree of hearing loss. In other words, smoking-related hearing loss is dose-dependent. Nicotine and carbon monoxide deplete oxygen levels and constrict blood vessels all over your body – including those in your inner ear responsible for maintaining hair cell health.
- Nicotine interferes with neurotransmitters in the auditory nerve, which are responsible for telling the brain which sound you are hearing.
- Nicotine can cause tinnitus, dizziness and vertigo.
- Smoking irritates the Eustachian tube and lining of the middle ear.
- Smoking damages cells in the body, turning them into free radicals that can damage DNA and cause disease.