It’s well-established that cigarette smoking primarily damages the respiratory stem. Why wouldn’t it? Smoke is literally inhaled into the lungs, linger there for a few seconds, then expelled. Repeat until the stick is finished, then light another one. The detrimental chemicals in cigarette smoke are also well-documented. Carbon monoxide (the same gas found in vehicle exhaust) is perhaps one of the deadliest. But have you heard (pun intended) that smoking can cause hearing loss as well? If not, it’s about time.
Smoking and hearing loss were first linked by virtue of a study conducted in England. The team from the University Manchester assessed over 160,000 individuals aged 40 to 69. All participants underwent hearing tests via the health project UK Biobank. After analysis, the researchers found out that smokers have a 15 percent risk of hearing loss, as opposed to passive smokers and non-smokers. Passive smokers, however (those who only inhale second-hand smoke) are at greater risk (28 percent).
How Can Smoking Affect Hearing Loss, Exactly?
Nicotine and carbon monoxide in cigarette smoke tightens the blood vessels, including those in the ears. When that happens, blood flow is hampered. Tiny hair cells inside the ear, which are responsible for sending sound signals to the brain, are asphyxiated. Damage occurs and will progress over time.
In addition, the hearing damage also appears to coincide with the amount of cigarettes smoked. A study in Japan tested this out, and came up with interesting results. It was found that as the number of sticks a day and packs per year consumed increased, the greater the risk of high-frequency hearing loss. High-frequency sounds are high-pitched ones, like chirping birds.
Searching for a Remedy
Hearing loss cannot be cured, and patients can only look for a remedy. Of course, there’s nothing better than specialised hearing aids, says The Hearing Care Shop. A hearing aid’s inner workings are quite easy to understand. It consists of a microphone, amplifier, and speaker, the three of which amplify the sound in the environment. Hearing aids are essentially tiny mikes connected to tiny loudspeakers that fit within the ear.
Kick the Habit Today
Risk factors may seem benign, but they’re still there and you can’t play with chance. Hearing loss is disadvantageous in a world full of wonderful sounds. Lose your sense of hearing, and you’ll miss out on a lot in life.