Can Smoking Damage Your Hearing?

Mother holder daughter on a walk

Can smoking damage your hearing? Recently scientists studied adults and children to understand the link between smoking and hearing loss. While many people know that cigarette smoking can cause several serious medical conditions, they may not realize that it also can damage hearing. Review several key findings from these studies.

Smoking tied to infant hearing loss

Researchers in Japan reviewed the health histories over eight years of more than 50,000 children. They evaluated hearing loss of kids exposed to cigarette smoking during pregnancy, infancy or both. The study found several interesting links:

  • 68 percent of the kids exposed to smoking during pregnancy had hearing loss.
  • 30 percent of infants who inhaled second-hand smoke were more likely to have hearing loss.
  • Kids exposed to smoking during pregnancy and infancy were 2.4 times more likely to have hearing loss than those who were not.

Scientists believe that 68 million people worldwide with hearing loss developed the problem during infancy. Smoking during pregnancy can impact kids’ brain development and cause auditory dysfunction. Medical experts advise that women should quit smoking before they become pregnant or soon afterward. And parents should avoid exposing babies to second-hand smoke.

Learn more about how hearing loss in younger people changes their brain.

Smoking effects on adults

In a separate study, Japanese researchers tracked the health of 50,000 adults. They discovered that 70 percent of adult smokers were more likely to develop hearing loss, compared to those who didn’t smoke. They also found that people who smoked 10 or more cigarettes daily were at higher risk for hearing loss:

No smoking sign
  • 10 cigarettes each day – These smokers were 40 percent more likely to develop high-frequency hearing loss, and 10 percent had low-frequency hearing loss.
  • 11-20 cigarettes a day – Smokers were 60 percent more likely to develop high-frequency hearing loss, and 20 percent experienced low-frequency hearing loss.
  • 20 or more cigarettes daily – The risk for high-frequency hearing loss increased to 70 percent, and 40 percent had low-frequency hearing loss.

Scientists are studying the reasons adult smokers experienced hearing loss. Some believe that toxins in cigarette smoke may damage the inner ear and lead to hearing loss. Others think that cigarette smoking reduces oxygen in the blood and impacts hearing.

Find out how foods you eat can affect your hearing.

Science Alert