Don’t Smoke? Your Hearing is Still Affected



Have you ever walked into a supermarket store or passed someone on the street and been hit by a big cloud of smoke? You don’t necessarily have to puff on a cigarette yourself to be exposed to smoke these days.

Unfortunately for you, a new study has revealed that hearing loss has also been linked to passive smoking.

Health experts have known for some time that people who smoke can damage their hearing however; now scientists believe that people exposed to second-hand smoke are also at risk of hearing loss.

The latest findings, which were published in the journal Tobacco Control, reveal that people subjected to second-hand smoke are far more likely to have poorer hearing than others and passive smoking increased their risk of hearing loss by a third.

Dr Ralph Holme, Head of Biomedical Research at the charity Action on Hearing Loss, the trading name of the Royal National Institute for Deaf People (RNID), said: “Hearing loss can often be very frustrating and lead to social isolation, if not quickly addressed.

“Before you next light up a cigarette, consider how it could impact not only on your own long-term hearing but your friends’ and relatives’ too.”

Why does smoking affect your hearing?

Tobacco smoke reportedly disrupts blood flow in the ear’s vessels. This can starve the ear of oxygen and result in a build-up of toxic waste, causing harm to your hearing. The affect differs to that caused by aging, or noise exposure.

What happened in the experiment?

The study was carried out by researchers at the University of Miami and Florida International University, in America. It looked at hearing test results of 3,307 non-smoking adults; some of whom had never smoked in their lifetime and others who used to smoke.

Those surveyed had their blood checked for cotinine, a by-product of nicotine, which is produced when you come into contact with tobacco smoke.

Dr David Fabry, who led the research, said: “We really do not know exactly how much smoke you need to be exposed to in order to be at increased risk. But we do know that the threshold for damage is very low.

“Really, the safe level of exposure is no exposure.”