Smoking Is Bad for Your Hearing, Too

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Smoking Is Bad for Your Hearing, Too

Cigarettes are bad for you in all sorts of ways, but you may be surprised to learn that they can also have a negative effect on your hearing. That’s right. It’s not just your heart and lungs that get stressed by cigarettes.

After adjusting for age, history of cardiovascular disease, alcohol consumption, occupational noise exposure, and education, statistics tell us that smokers are 70% more likely to develop hearing loss than non-smokers. And speaking of occupational noise—smokers exposed to it have four times the rate of hearing loss compared to non-smokers in the same jobs.

How is that so? Cigarette smoke contains known “ototoxins”—substances harmful to the auditory system. Nicotine, for instance can constrict blood vessels, decreasing the flow of blood to the cochlea, which depends on a rich blood supply to support the conversion of vibrations into electrical impulses for the brain.

Research has also shown that it’s not just smokers themselves who can be affected. Non-smokers living with a smoker are more likely to develop hearing loss. And teens exposed to cigarette smoke are up to three times more likely to develop hearing loss than teens with no exposure.

 

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