The Link Between Smoking & Hearing Loss Posted on April 5, 2022 by Advanced ENT & Allergy If you smoke cigarettes, you put more than just your heart and lungs at risk – it could cost you your hearing, too. In fact, exposure to secondhand smoke can also cause hearing problems. Below we review the research on the link between smoking and hearing loss. What the Research Shows A recent study published in JAMA Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery in January 2022 examined patterns of hearing loss over 30 years among three groups: people who had never or formerly smoked, those who quit smoking during the study period and smokers who continued to smoke throughout the study. Those who never stopped smoking scored worse on hearing tests compared to the other groups. This is corroborated by older studies. One from researchers at the University of Wisconsin, Madison found that current smokers are 1.69 times more likely to have hearing loss compared to nonsmokers. These researchers also found that nonsmokers who lived with smokers were more likely to have hearing loss compared to nonsmokers who were not exposed to a household member who smoked. Young people exposed to secondhand smoke are especially at risk. According to one study published in Archives of Otolaryngology Head & Neck Surgery in 2014, teens exposed to cigarette smoke are two to three times more likely to develop hearing loss compared to those with no exposure. How Smoking Affects Hearing Cigarettes contain both nicotine and carbon monoxide. These substances lower oxygen blood levels and constrict blood vessels throughout your body, including in your inner ears. In addition, nicotine and cigarette smoke can: Interfere with the neurotransmitters in the auditory nerve.Irritate the Eustachian tube and lining of the middle ear.Trigger the release of free radicals.Make you more sensitive to loud noises, like the crack of a bowling ball hitting the pins at Laurel Lanes. The Benefits of Quitting Fortunately, the first study mentioned in this post found that former smokers tend to perform better on hearing tests than persistent smokers, which shows that quitting is, indeed, beneficial to your hearing. It can also prevent future damage. In addition, the American Lung Association reports that 20 minutes after your last cigarette, your circulation improves and your blood pressure decreases. After eight hours, your carbon monoxide and oxygen levels return to normal. After 48 hours, your nerve endings begin to regenerate and your sense of smell and taste improve. For more information or to schedule an appointment with a hearing expert, call Advanced ENT & Allergy today. Can Car Wrecks Lead to Hearing Loss?Learn About the History of Audiology Awareness MonthWhat Type of Hearing Protection Will Work Best for Me?