To understand how smoking can impact your hearing, it's important to know how smoking affects the body. Cigarettes are made with tobacco, a plant that contains nicotine. Nicotine is an addictive drug
with depressant and stimulant effects. The effects of nicotine, beyond being addictive, tend to get overlooked due to the dangers of tobacco smoke
. Nicotine, however, is part of the relationship between cigarettes and hearing loss.
contains carbon monoxide, tar, and toxic chemicals like arsenic, formaldehyde, and benzene. The nicotine in tobacco and the carbon monoxide in tobacco smoke are the substances linked to hearing loss
. Carbon monoxide can raise carboxyhaemoglobin levels
, which can lower blood oxygen levels and constrict blood vessels. Nicotine can have the same effect
Low blood oxygen levels and constricted blood vessels can result in less oxygen available for the organ of Corti — an organ located in the cochlea, a part of the inner ear. Your inner ear, or the hair cells within your inner ear, are responsible for converting sound waves
into electrical energy for the brain. Without these hair cells, your brain can't properly interpret sound waves.
Naturally, damage to the inner ear from smoking can result in hearing loss — putting smokers at a higher risk. One clinical study of 3,753 subjects found that smokers were 1.69 times as likely to have hearing loss
The connection between smoking and hearing loss doesn't stop there. Nicotine and cigarette smoke are believed to cause other issues in the body that could result in hearing loss. This includes, but is not limited to:
Smoking can also increase your sensitivity to loud noises
, which can make you more likely to develop noise-induced hearing loss
. This is especially a concern among smokers that work in noisy environments
Not all damage caused by smoking is reversible, but some (namely in the lungs
) can be. Hearing loss resulting from damage to the inner ear is permanent, but you can take steps to try and prevent it from getting worse.
Giving up smoking isn't easy, but thousands of Australians are doing it successfully year after year. Speak with your doctor to learn more about the effects of smoking and what resources are available to help you quit for good.
Are you worried that you've already lost some of your hearing due to smoking? You can gain insights into your hearing and learn about possible treatment options by contacting us
to schedule a hearing test today.