Health professionals point out the risks of smoking and drinking to your health, and the results of numerous recent studies now indicate that drinking, smoking and even exposure to second hand smoke may affect your hearing. If you had plans to quit, read on to learn more!
Smokers at Risk for Hearing Loss
A study by the American Medical Association reveals that smokers are more likely to experience hearing loss than non-smokers. Furthermore, passive or second-hand smoke can also take a toll on your hearing abilities. Research from the US and Europe also confirm a link between drinking and hearing loss. Spending a lot of time at your favorite club drinking and just having a cigarette or two – or four – is going to catch up to you in a few ways – and this includes your hearing abilities.
Statistics on Smoking and Hearing Loss
Smokers are 70% more likely to experience hearing loss, and the studies that started showing this date back more than 10 years. The risk of hearing loss gets greater with the number of cigarettes smoked daily. Hearing loss also increases exponentially when the duration of the exposure is factored in. For instance, smokers who were in an environment for a significant amount of time, with their own smoke or smoke from other, are more likely to experience hearing loss. Another study compared nonsmokers to current smokers who had 10 cigarettes a day. The smokers were 40% more likely to suffer low frequency hearing loss. Smoking more than 10 cigarettes a day boosted the chance of hearing loss to 70%.
Seniors who smoked and/or continue to smoke are nearly one and a half times more likely to have hearing loss as compared to those in their age group who didn’t or don’t smoke. Nearly 30% of smokers in the age group of between 48 and 59 years old had hearing loss, revealed another study. The same number of non-smokers surveyed in that age group showed only 16% had hearing loss issues.
Hearing loss rises proportionately if there is also an exposure to noise factored into the equation. A study of employees in a manufacturing environment involving noise indicated those employees who also smoked were four times more likely to have some hearing loss. Individuals who worked at entertainment venues where they were exposed to music over 85 decibels for more than 20 hours a week and exposed to second hand smoke were also found to be more likely to experience hearing loss.
Second-Hand Smoke is Also Harmful
Giving up smoking but frequenting environments where you may be exposed to smoke – also known as second-hand or passive smoke – can also lead to hearing loss. Research shows that exposure leads to levels of hearing loss that may make conversational speech seem muffled. Second-hand smoke can also cause hearing loss in children because their auditory nerves are not fully developed.
Health Effects of Smoking
Nicotine and carbon monoxide, both toxins associated with smoking, constrict blood vessels including the delicate blood vessels located in the inner ear. Nicotine also affects neurotransmitters, the nerve transmitters that send a message from the brain to the ear for auditory function. Damage to the neurotransmitters causes a loss of comprehension creating what smokers describe as an inability to distinguish between sounds so conversations as well as television audio is muffled.
Hearing Loss and Alcohol
High alcohol use over a long period of time can damage the central auditory cortex of the brain and lead to brain shrinkage. So, although the ears may be functioning properly, the brain is no longer able to process the sounds correctly and this results in hearing loss. People who suffer from alcoholism may also have damage within their ears. High levels of alcohol in the bloodstream can create a toxic environment which can also damage the fragile hair cells in the cochlea. This is known as ototoxicity. Alcohol can cause hearing loss because of this or because of damage to the auditory cortex.
Schedule a Hearing Test
If you are a smoker or a former smoker, and you also consume alcohol, consider taking a hearing test to check on your hearing abilities. At Hearing Consultants, we offer comprehensive hearing tests. Hearing tests are non-invasive and will determine whether you currently experience a hearing loss. If you do, we can get you started on a treatment plan to correct it. Contact us today to learn more.