Can Cigarette Smoking Lead to Hearing Loss?

June 13th, 2014 | by Andreas Seelisch | Hearing Loss
Can Cigarette Smoking Lead to Hearing Loss?

The long-term health effects of cigarette smoking are evident to most people. Lung cancer, emphysema, and other respiratory issues have been clearly linked to tobacco consumption. Now, hearing loss has been linked to long-term exposure to cigarette smoking.


Research into the effects of cigarette smoking on hearing has shown that prenatal exposure to smoke correlates with hearing loss. This affects both high- and low-frequency sounds, and indicates that the development of the auditory system in utero is inhibited by this exposure.

Prenatal exposure to cigarette smoke has also been linked to an increased rate of unilateral hearing loss in many individuals.

Regular smokers have been shown to have a higher risk of hearing loss over time. The data shows that they are approximately 70% more likely to experience hearing loss when compared to their non-smoking counterparts.

This pattern has been observed in other studies and age groups. A group of individuals ranging from 48 to 59 years of age was observed. Approximately 26% of them experienced hearing loss linked to smoking, while 23% of former smokers had some hearing loss.

Long-term Effects

The effects of smoking go beyond hearing, as children and adolescents who experience hearing loss must also deal with communication and learning difficulties.

The data provided indicate that the prenatal effects of exposure to cigarette smoke decreases test scores in children. Reading and language abilities are impaired in many cases of hearing loss. Mild loss of hearing affects learning, leading to a higher incidence of student dropout rates.

Smoking during pregnancy has been observed in approximately 12% of cases, and is a clear indicator of the potential for long-term impact all the way through adolescence.

Second-hand Smoke

Hearing loss resulting from cigarette smoke has been linked to non-smokers exposed to second-hand smoke. It’s been indicated that non-smokers are approximately 2 times more likely to experience hearing loss when living with smokers.

The amount of hearing loss that occurs is dependent on the duration and amount of smoke the individual is exposed to. In any case, it’s clear that non-smokers must take careful measures to prevent hearing loss as well as the health issues associated with second-hand smoke.

Hearing loss has become a major concern in adults and children. The link between cigarette smoking and hearing loss has now been demonstrated, and can help in the prevention in hearing loss in young children and adolescence. This further supports the prevention and reduction of cigarette smoking among the public.

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