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How Smoking & Drinking May Affect Hearing
We all know that bad habits like drinking and smoking can have a negative impact on our bodies. Common concerns like cancer, heart disease and high blood pressure most definitely feature in the list of reasons to cut these habits. But, did you know that poor lifestyle choices can also drastically increase your chances of hearing loss?
Smoking and drinking, in particular, are quite connected to a decline in hearing health, as well as posing increased risks of secondary issues like noise-induced hearing loss. Whether you’re starting to notice hearing damage or are simply considering making better hearing choices, keep reading to find out exactly what these bad habits mean for your hearing health in general.
Blowing smoke on hearing health
Smoking is significantly bad for our health for a range of reasons, but few people realize that even a moderate smoking habit makes hearing loss around 70% more likely. Like most of the smoking health risks, this is due to the myriad of chemicals found in cigarette smoke, which include rather worrying names like formaldehyde and arsenic.
Studies show that smoking-related hearing loss is typically dose-dependent, meaning that the more your smoke, the more directly you increase your risks of hearing loss. That’s because smoking directly impacts the ear in the following ways:
- Blocking the eustachian tube: Which is fundamental for equalizing pressure in the ears and draining mucus from the lining of the middle ear.
- Interfering with neurotransmitters: Which transport sound information from the inner ear to the brain.
- Increasing blood pressure: Which can impact the supply of blood and oxygen to the inner ear.
Smoking also significantly damages DNA in the body, leading to free radicals that increase the risks of infection and disease anywhere, including the ears.
What about passive smoke?
Smoking doesn’t only impact your hearing. Even passive smoking can lead to significantly prevalent hearing loss risks, with nonsmokers twice as likely to develop problems if they live with someone who smokes. The fact is that adolescents who live with a smoking parent are between two to three times more likely to develop hearing loss due to smoke hindering the proper development of their auditory system.
Don’t drown your hearing sorrows
Smoking can be bad for your hearing that it’s enough to make you want a drink. However, it’s worth thinking twice about this one, too, as alcohol consumption most definitely isn’t innocent where hearing loss is concerned.
Much like smoking, the effect of alcohol on the body can have a notable impact on hearing health due to a range of issues that include:
- Shrinking the auditory cortex: Which drastically limits the ability to process and hear sounds.
- Permanently damaging hair cells in the cochlea: Preventing the flow of auditory information to the brain.
- Increasing blood flow to the inner ear: Which can result in permanent or temporary tinnitus.
- Changes to fluid in the ear: That can lead to vertigo and imbalance.
- Cocktail deafness: That’s caused by prolonged exposure to excessively loud noise in pubs and clubs.
Signs you need to quit
Quitting bad habits is always the best way to prevent or at least halt onward degeneration, and preserving hearing health is no different. Even if damage has already occurred, these bad habits cause significant ongoing hearing problems that even treatment can’t help if you continue with the habit in question. Anyone should seek help to quit regardless of the damage they think they might have done, but signs that you especially need to take proactive steps towards a healthier lifestyle include:
- Vertigo or imbalance
- Sounds that seem far away or muffled
- Recurring inner ear infections
- Either continuous or intermittent ringing in the ears
- Auditory confusion
Let the Hearing Clinic at Woodlake help
While you alone need to remove bad habits and enjoy the health benefits that doing so can bring, you don’t need to tackle alcohol or smoking-induced hearing loss alone. In fact, seeking an appointment with an audiologist sooner rather than later is fundamental for addressing what would otherwise be an escalating problem.
Our audiologists are on hand to ensure you get the treatment you need from a comprehensive hearing evaluation through to hearing aid fittings and even ongoing maintenance. What’s more, our online hearing survey ensures that we understand your situation and lifestyle choices, long before you set foot in our offices. This puts us in the best possible position to offer healthcare solutions that suit you and your needs. Enjoy these benefits and more by contacting us today at 612-200-8414.