If you smoke, you are well aware at this point of the dangers and risks associated with that habit. The media has no shortage of news stories about how smoking can increase the risk of respiratory problems, heart disease and cancer.
These risks are widely known to the 40 million American adults who smoke cigarettes, but did you know that smoking can also affect your hearing health?
Experts in the field of hearing health have long suspected that smoking can contribute to hearing damage, but on-going studies the past few decades has confirmed it. These same studies also show that second-hand smoke exposure also doubles your risk to develop hearing loss.
How does smoking affect hearing health?
It turns out there are several ways. An abundance of chemicals are found in cigarettes, from arsenic, formaldehyde, and nicotine to hydrogen cyanide.
The combination of carbon monoxide and nicotine work to deplete oxygen levels and tighten blood vessels throughout the body. The inner ear is very sensitive and dependent on the small blood vessels that circulate in them for maintaining hair cell health and hearing overall.
Chemicals that Affect Hearing.
Nicotine, the main addictive component of cigarettes, also has a number of harmful effects, including dizziness, vertigo and tinnitus and interfering with neurotransmitters in the auditory nerve, which regulate how your brain interprets sound.
Smoking in general causes damage to every cell in the body with free radicals that cause disease and damage DNA. Smoking can also irritate the lining of the middle ear and make you more sensitive to loud noise. This can in turn increase your risk of developing noise-induced hearing loss.
Studies have shown that the longer you smoke, the worse for your hearing health, but the good news is that as soon as you stop smoking you can start to see the benefits of quitting. As soon as 20 minutes after your last smoke, circulation improves and blood pressure is decreased. Eight hours later, oxygen and carbon monoxide levels normalize and in 48 hours your senses of taste and smell return to more normal levels.
Quitting smoking has numerous benefits for your whole body, including lowering your risk of heard disease, vascular disease and stroke as well as several types of cancer. Not smoking can also increase fertility and reduce risk of many other diseases.
Stop the damage now.
Since you can’t reverse hearing damage that has already happened, it is beneficial to quit smoking before the damage occurs, or gets worse. If you are ready to quit smoking, visit smokefree.gov for tips and ways to get through your first few days without cigarettes.
No matter what the cause, if you suspect you have hearing loss it is best to visit your audiologist right away to take the best course of action. Your audiologist may offer a solution that can slow or halt the progression of hearing loss.
Here at California Hearing Center we are committed to your hearing health. Call us today to set up an appointment for a hearing screening.