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We all know that smoking cigarette can have many negative effects on the human body. Many people know the biggest risks but aren’t aware of how it affects things like our senses. Can smoking affect your hearing? Let’s have a look at the research, and see what impact smoking can have on the ears and hearing.

There have been several large-scale, long-term studies that have looked at smokers and hearing loss. While the results vary, all of the studies conclude that being a smoker does harm one’s hearing. Some studies say that the risk is 15% greater in smokers than in non-smokers, and others say that smokers have as much as a 60% higher likelihood of developing hearing loss. Even more scary is the impact of second-hand smoke. It’s estimated that regular exposure to second-hand smoke, even in non-smokers, increases the likelihood of developing hearing loss by 40%!

How does smoking damage our hearing?

It’s a well-documented fact that nicotine and carbon monoxide found in cigarettes lower your blood oxygen levels and constrict your blood vessels. This happens all over the body, including in the inner ear, which can affect the functioning of the hair cells of the cochlea, leading to sensorineural hearing loss. We also know that nicotine affects the way that the neurotransmitters in our bodies work. This also applies to the neurotransmitters of the auditory nerve. As these neurotransmitters lose sensitivity, the ability to hear may deteriorate.

It’s not just the inner ear that can be affected by smoking. Smoking irritates the eustachian tube and lining of the middle ear, making middle ear infections more likely. It also damages the cells of our bodies, making them more susceptible to infection and disease, which includes in the outer, middle, and inner ear. There are even theories that smoking cigarettes can make your ears more sensitive to loud sounds, and therefore more susceptible to noise-induced hearing loss.

However you look at it, smoking isn’t good for our ears or our hearing. Can smoking affect your hearing? It absolutely can! Whether it’s making your ears more likely to pick up an infection, reducing the functioning of the cochlea, making the auditory nerve less sensitive, or all of the above, it’s clear that smoking puts you at a higher risk for developing hearing and ear problems.

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