Can Smoking Cause Hearing Loss?

The answer appears to be, “yes”. Recently, researchers examined 15 studies on hearing loss and smoking to determine if smoking caused hearing loss. Their conclusion? Smoking is “a significant risk factor for hearing loss for both current and past smokers.”

When other contributing factors for hearing loss, such as occupational or recreational noise exposure were eliminated, persons who were either past or present smokers had more hearing loss than persons without any smoking history.

The answer to why smoking contributes to hearing loss, called ototoxicity, is not fully understood. It is speculated that the nicotine in cigarettes causes cochlea anemia, meaning that the body has reduced ability to carry oxygen to the cochlea, the organ of hearing. Without sufficient oxygen, the cells within the cochlea that are responsible for picking up sound and sending that sound to the brain for processing, can die.