Could passive smoking lead to hearing loss?

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A recent study has shown that there may be a link between breathing second-hand smoke and hearing loss. Research had already shown that people who used to smoke or still smoke were at risk of losing some hearing, but now it’s thought that even passive smokers are at risk.

So if you have worked or spent significant lengths of time in a smoky atmosphere but you yourself do not smoke, you may still suffer from hearing loss through no fault of your own.

Passive smoking can cause hearing loss

The study looked at over 3,300 adults aged 20-69 who were all classed as passive smokers. They all gave their medical history, their exposure to noise through work or leisure and whether or not they had smoked in the past or lived with a smoker.

Men seemed to fare worst with those who were older or who had diabetes suffering from impaired hearing – despite the fact they themselves had not smoked. Almost 1 in 10 had low to mid frequency hearing loss, and a quarter had high frequency hearing loss.

The authors of the study said: "Further research is required to determine whether [passive smoking] potentiates the effect of noise exposure and ageing on hearing," they conclude. "If this finding is independently confirmed, then hearing loss can be added to the growing list of health consequences associated with exposure to second-hand tobacco smoke."

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