Smoking Can Affect Your Hearing: If Hearing Is Important Then You Should Quit Smoking

There are many reasons to quit smoking. In truth, there seems to be an endless barrage of bad news about smoking and the damage it can do to your health. We can add one more reason to quit: smoking can affect your hearing. In fact, it may be doing irreparable damage.

The way sound works and interacts with the ear, and how this is then transmitted to the brain, is a precise and complex procedure. Sound travels through the air as waves, which are funneled into the ear. The subsequent vibrations pass through a number of structures such as the eardrum and three small bones in the ear called ossicles. Once inside, the vibrations are picked up by tiny hairs. The hairs pass on the information in the form of electrical pulses. The auditory or cochlear nerve then carries this signal to the brain. While this may not seem like it has anything to do with smoking, studies have shown that smoking can impair hearing. The question is: how?

There are three main lines of reasoning on the matter.

First, smoking actually produces nearly 1,000 chemical by-products, many which are extremely hazardous. These toxins travel throughout the body and can damage tissue. The sensitive tissues involved in the hearing process can be negatively impacted by these dangerous substances.

Second, these noxious chemicals can stunt the growth and development of nerves. When a young person is exposed to the toxic air that comes from smoking, the chemicals can damage or stunt the growth of the auditory nerve. This is just one more reason to prevent the exposure of children to secondhand smoke, as it is vital for their hearing and crucial in many other ways to their development.

Third, damage to neurotransmitters can severely affect hearing. These transmitters communicate information within the brain. If they are damaged, they cannot relay the information. So, even if the other processes are in place and functioning, signal transfer (hearing) depends on the neurotransmitter.

The evidence is convincing that smoking can affect your hearing. So, if one needs another reason to kick the habit, protecting your hearing is a good one.