Did you know that smokers are 70 percent more likely to develop hearing loss than nonsmokers? Yet despite this correlation and the many harmful side effects associated with smoking cigarettes, 40 million U.S. adults still smoke. Explore the relationship between smoking and hearing loss to better understand why cigarettes are able to impact the health and function of your auditory system.
Smoking and Hearing Loss
Nicotine Damages Neurotransmitters
Nicotine, the addictive ingredient in tobacco, interferes with the neurotransmitters that communicate with your brain and help it interpret meaningful sounds. When these neurotransmitters are damaged, hearing loss occurs (source). Nicotine can also cause other hearing-related issues, like tinnitus, dizziness, and vertigo.
Carbon Monoxide Constricts Blood Vessels
Smoking tobacco increases the amount of carbon monoxide in your blood, which may constrict your blood vessels, including the blood vessels in your inner ears. This tightening can interfere with the healthy blood flow to your ears and prevent oxygen from reaching your inner ears, which contain many components that play a huge role in your ears’ ability to hear sounds. For example, damage to the tiny hair cells in the cochlea from lack of oxygen will impact your ears’ ability to translate sound vibrations into electrical impulses for the brain.
Second-Hand Smoke and Hearing Loss
Unfortunately, second-hand smoke also poses a threat to your hearing. It is especially dangerous for children. Children’s auditory systems don’t fully develop until their teen years, and second-hand smoke can disrupt the formation process. In fact, a study by the New York University School of Medicine found that adolescents exposed to tobacco smoke performed worse on sound frequency tests than adolescents who weren’t exposed (source). So if you or someone you love smokes, avoid smoking near children, especially in an enclosed space.
Tips for Breaking the Habit
While an addiction to smoking can be hard to break, with persistence and determination, anyone can kick the habit. Use these tips to quit smoking for good:
- Try Nicotine Replacement Therapy: The first few weeks after quitting smoking are typically the hardest. Consider using nicotine patches or nicotine gum to ease your body’s cravings during the initial withdrawal stages.
- Define Your “Why”: Many people who successfully quit smoking have a strong personal reason that motivates them. Define why you want to stop smoking, and create visual reminders that inspire you to break the habit. For example, if you want to stop smoking so you can live a long and healthy life for your family, put up pictures of your children on your desk and use them as your phone’s wallpaper.
- Ask for Support: Sometimes sharing your goals can make you feel more accountable and more likely to achieve success. Tell your friends and family about your goal to stop smoking, and find someone you can call or text when you feel the urge to smoke. This friend can remind you of all the reasons why you should put down the cigarette.
A growing body of research suggests that smoking can lead to permanent hearing loss. Protect your precious auditory system by quitting smoking today.
If you would like to learn more about smoking and hearing loss, reach out to Sound Relief Hearing Center in Colorado or Arizona. We are independently owned, so we always have the patient’s best interest at heart. Plus, our state-of-the-art technology ensures that our patients receive the best treatment available. With our unparalleled excellence in the hearing industry, our dedication to patient care, and our commitment to helping people control and conquer their hearing issues, you can count on Sound Relief Hearing Center. To learn more about us, please browse our website, visit our YouTube channel, or give us a call at 720-259-9962. You can also schedule an appointment online to meet with one of our audiologists. We look forward to hearing from you!