Dangers of Smoking Extend to Your Hearing Health

smoking causes hearing lossThis day and age, most people are wise enough to know that smoking causes damage to your health. What many people may not realize, though, is that smoking damages more than your lungs or cardiac health – smoking also affects your hearing. Smoking isn’t as popular as it was just a few decades ago, but the risks associated with smoking haven’t improved. Adults who smoke are 70% more likely to experience hearing loss! That’s a HUGE number for such an unknown risk. If you knew this before you started smoking, would you have even started? Maybe. Would you have smoked if you pictured yourself wearing hearing aids in your middle age? Probably not. It’s never too late. Your hearing health matters and if you’re suffering from signs of hearing loss these days, our audiologists are ready to assist you.

It is estimated that one in five Americans, or roughly 20% of the US population are smokers. For many people, it soothes their mood and their nerves. For others, it is just a physical habit that’s very hard to let go of. But before you light that next cigarette, know the risks. For example, nicotine as well as some of the other toxic substances found in cigarettes damages both the middle ear mechanisms as well as the inner ear. Nicotine has also been shown to impair the brain’s ability to hear and interpret sounds. Nicotine can affect the chemical messengers (a.k.a neurotransmitters) in the auditory nerve and aren’t able to accurately tell the brain what kind of sound is really being processed.

Research also concludes that nicotine and carbon monoxide that result from smoking tighten your blood vessels, including the ones in your ears. This restricts the blood flow and the life-giving oxygen in the inner ear. The tiny hair cells in the cochlea that are responsible for translating sound vibrations into electrical impulses for the brain, suffer damage due to this type of asphyxiation.

It all sounds pretty confusing in these scientific terms, but our audiologists can help explain the dangers of smoking on your hearing in ways that you can understand. It’s quite simple in a way – quitting smoking can help reduce your risk of hearing loss. If you already notice some damage, we can evaluate your hearing and help provide treatment. Set them down, throw them out, give it up. Your hearing and your overall health is well worth it, wouldn’t you agree? If not for you, consider the dangers to those around you and their hearing health, too.

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