Is cigarette smoke making young people hard of hearing? According to one study, adolescents exposed to second hand smoke
are 1.83 times more likely to have low-frequency hearing loss when compared to those not exposed.
Anil K. Lalwani, MD, from New York University along with colleagues conducted the first ever study that looked at how secondhand smoke affects hearing in young people. By analyzing date from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (2005-2006) they pinpointed 1,533 nonsmoking teens between the ages of 12 to 19. These teens had undergone audiometric testing and their serum cotinine levels had also been assayed. Cotinine is a metabolite of nicotine found in tobacco. The findings show that those with the highest amounts of exposure are at the greatest risk for even more hearing loss – as much as a 2.72 fold increase. Hearing loss can go unnoticed.
The study also concluded that 18.43% of these teens weren’t even aware that their hearing ability had been reduced. If that’s the case, then more than likely their parents weren’t aware, either. Any early chance to get help or change the environment went by unnoticed.
Though the study found a causal relationship between the amount of cotinine found in the blood and the amount of hearing loss experienced, there were limitations of the study. For example, there was not enough information on how long these young people were exposed to smoke or where the smoke came from – prenatal exposure could have been a contributing factor. The study also didn’t account for exposure to loud noises. In addition, the researchers couldn’t rule out that the hearing loss was conductive (hearing loss due to inefficient conduction of sound from the outer to middle ear) as opposed to sensorineural, (hearing loss due to damage to the enter ear.)How second hand smoke reduces hearing loss.
When nicotine or other components of cigarette smoke reaches the inner ear, the system of blood vessels in the inner ear is injured. This damage can lead to hearing loss, which in turn not only interferes with speech and language, but can also have a detrimental effect on cognitive development and function, social interaction, and academic success. What is really disturbing is that babies and young children have their hearing checked as part of routine medical check-ups but teens do not. That means they may not receive help until there hearing has worsened.
The link between secondhand smoke exposure and hearing loss indicates that the injury to the inner ear is global. Even worse, the damage is probably in the early phase, which means that hearing loss could become more severe over time.
The dangers of second hand smoke.
Parents and caretakers know that secondhand smoke can lead to serious health problems
such as low birth weight, respiratory tract infections as well as behavioral and cognitive problems. What is really alarming is that more than 50% of American children have to breathe in secondhand smoke at some point in their young lives.
For any parent looking for one more reason to quit the habit
, look no further.