Whenever you go to the doctor, one of the first questions he or she typically asks is whether or not you smoke. That's because smoking carries with it the risk for a multitude of health problems, including lung disease, various types of cancer, emphysema, bronchitis, and the list goes on and on. Now, it may be time to add a new condition to that list, as there is a growing body of evidence which suggests that smoking could be related to hearing loss.
The Latest Study
Recently, Oxford University Press published a research paper entitled “Smoking, Smoking Cessation, and the Risk of Hearing Loss: Japan Epidemiology Collaboration on Occupational Health Study.” In it, the researchers argued that they found a definitive correlation between regularly smoking cigarettes and various types of hearing loss.
By research study standards, this most recent one represented a massive undertaking. Over the course of eight years, the team evaluated more than 50,000 participants. Using data from yearly doctor checkups, the researchers monitored a number of different variables, including the results of annual hearing exams as well as self-assessment questionnaires regarding health and lifestyle.
Based on this information, the team was able to examine whether or not the participants were smokers, how long they had been smoke for, how many cigarettes they smoked on average, and if they had smoked in the past. Additionally, the researchers also looked for other factors that may influence hearing ability, such as age, noise levels in the workplace and other underlying conditions.
Surprisingly, the study shows that, even after controlling for all other variables, people who smoked regularly had between a 1.2 and 1.6 increased risk for some type of hearing loss. In most patients, the hearing loss resulted in an inability to make out higher-frequency sounds, but there was still a significant risk to lower frequency sounds as well.
The good news, however, is that the risk dissipated after the participants curtailed their smoking habits. For individuals who have stopped smoking for five years or longer, their risk for hearing loss was more in line with that of their peers who had never developed a smoking habit.
As for exactly how smoking caused hearing loss, the researchers didn't offer a concrete explanation. But given the damage that smoking can do to the body, coupled with the delicate anatomy responsible for our ability to hear, it's not really surprising that such a correlation exists. So if you're yet to stamp out your smoking habit, here is one more reason why you should. The sooner you stop smoking, the sooner you'll lessen the risk of hearing loss.
If you or someone you know would like to learn more about hearing loss and how to treat it, please feel free to schedule a consultation or contact one of our representatives today!