How is smoking and hearing loss related?

It’s obvious how smoking can hurt your lungs and throat, but the connection between smoking your ears is more complex. 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.

“Cardiovascular disease means that the blood supply to the ears is reduced. Sensory cells in the ear then start to die because of a reduced blood supply.” he says. “Another possibility is that there are toxins in tobacco smoke that have a direct toxic effect on the ear, perhaps in addition to the cardiovascular impact on hearing.”

Dawes says it was interesting to see how strong the risk was for smokers. The study looked at other factors including ethnicity, age, socioeconomic status, noise exposure, and use of ototoxic drugs – and even after all those and more were taken into account, smoking was still linked with hearing loss. The results are similar to those of studies done in several other countries.

“The link is real and reliable,” says Dawes. “But the good news is that ex-smokers were at no extra risk of hearing loss. Quitting smoking is likely to be hugely beneficial in protecting against hearing loss.”

If you smoke, or are acquainted with anyone who smokes tobacco, make sure you are aware – and share your awareness – of the threats posed to many aspects of your health, including your hearing.

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