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Hearing Loss Causes: Give Up Smoking!

Is there anyone who doesn't know that smoking is an unhealthy, life-threatening habit? That to give up smoking is a really good thing? ANYONE?

There are numerous studies to show that smoking: 1) is the number one cause of oral cancers like tongue cancer and cancer of the esophagus, 2) turns human lungs into briquettes and lastly that smoking leads to heart disease and an increased likelihood of stroke.

And in various research studies published, including a report in The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), a relationship between smoking and loss of hearing has been clearly demonstrated.

So, if you've been looking for another reason to kick the smoking habit, now you have it: you're damaging your hearing with each puff you take.

Smoking Is A Reason for Hearing Loss

The study reported in JAMA involved a large group – 4,541 participants between the ages of 48 and 92. The results speak for themselves. Even after adjusting for age, lifestyle factors, geography, socio-economic factors and other calculations to "level the playing field" and preclude other causes of hearing loss, the study revealed that smokers were more likely to experience hearing loss.

One critical conclusion of this study clearly states "...modification of smoking habits may prevent or delay age-related declines in hearing sensitivity." In other words, stop smoking, hear better, longer. Simple.

A CDC Report

In a more recent report on smoking, conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, better known as the CDC, and published in September, 2010, a clear relationship between increased mortality among smokers and that it has been clearly demonstrated cigarette smoking continues to be the leading cause of preventable disease and death in the United States.

The report concludes that smoking not only contributes to increased death rates in later life, it causes loss of productivity and increases in the expense of health care by $193 billion each year.

Some other numbers to consider from the CDC report:

  • 20.6% of Americans still smoke cigarettes 50 years after initial studies established a correlation between smoking and health. That's 46.6 million smokers in the U.S. alone.
  • More men (23.5%) smoke than women (17.9%).
  • Those living below the poverty level are more likely to smoke (31.1%).
  • More highly educated individuals are less likely to smoke, going from a high of 49% of those with a GED to just 5.6% of those with graduate collage degrees.
  • The number of people who smoke has declined but this decline has leveled off with more and more young people smoking despite tobacco abuse education throughout grades K-12. Kids know the dangers. They just ignore them.

Why Smoking Causes Hearing Loss

Give Up Smoking
Kick the habit, your hearing will thank you

Researchers know there's a correlation between smoking and hearing loss but the cause and effect has yet to be determined. According to a report by Dr. Bharti Katbamana published on AudiologyOnline in 2008, there are three main theories why smokers substantially increase the likelihood of hearing loss:

  • The first theory is that it may be related to hypoxia (lack of oxygen) - nicotine and carbon monoxide from cigarettes may actually deplete oxygen levels to the cochlea which is bathed in fluids and blood supply. Like any part of the body, if oxygen is depleted tissue damage can occur.
  • The second theory is related to the interaction between nicotine and neurotransmitters in the auditory (hearing) nerve. Neurotransmitters essentially function as chemical messengers and if impaired they would no longer be able to properly tell the brain what is occurring along the hearing nerve.
  • Lastly the third suspected theory is related to adolescent smoking. Studies have shown mechanisms within the hearing nerve are not fully developed until late adolescents; thus the hearing nerve pathways are particularly susceptible to damage, if environmental toxins like nicotine are introduced during the early adolescent years.

While scientists continue to find the definitive relationship between hearing loss and tobacco use, studies that go back to the last century show a clear relationship between hearing loss and tobacco use. And the earlier tobacco use begins, the more damage is done over the years.

Cigarette smoking and other tobacco use, when coupled with the noisy environment in which people live (it's a noisy world!) will create a generation of people who lose the ability to hear earlier in life according to long-tested, proven documentation.

So, if you're not a smoker, don't start. And, regardless of age, if you are a smoker, by all means, consider quitting. The CDC is hopeful that the enactment of the 2009 Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act will provide further opportunities to reduce tobacco use.

Yes, you may have caused more damage to your hearing because you have smoked for years but by quitting, you can lessen the amount of damage that occurs in the future. Not only will your ears thank you but your entire body will!

Kick butt. Hear better.

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