The Relationship Between Smoking and Hearing Loss
Over the past several decades, medical researchers have continued to find more health problems connected to smoking. We know that smoking can lead to lung cancer, respiratory issues, heart disease, and many other medical issues. The medical community recognized that hearing loss was also connected with smoking over 40 years ago, however details of how smoking effects hearing has only come to light in the past 15 years. Smoking effects every part of our auditory system, from how sound is transferred through the ear to where it is processed in the brain.
Research shows that smoking can cause respiratory issues which could lead to middle ear infections or conductive hearing loss. Smokers are also at a high risk for experiencing sensorineural hearing loss, which is damage to the hair cells in the inner ear and/or pathways to the brain. This type of hearing loss is permanent and leads to decreased speech understanding which would require the need for amplification. Other studies have suggested the damage caused to auditory pathways could be connected with decreased cognitive processing and auditory attention, however there have been no consistent outcomes.
We all know that smoking is bad for our health. We see it plastered on billboards, in advertisements, and hear it from our loved ones. Although there are other factors that can lead to hearing loss, like age, noise exposure, and genetics, smoking is only going to speed up and worsen any hearing loss, as well as take a toll on your body as a whole. If you or a family member is or has ever been a smoker and are noticing some issues hearing, contact our offices to schedule an appointment.