How Smoking & Drinking May Affect Hearing

Taking steps to protect your hearing can help you avoid hearing loss while also improving your overall health. Avoiding loud and excessive noise exposure is the most straightforward way to safeguard your hearing, but other lifestyle behaviors can also help maintain your hearing health, including quitting smoking and moderating your drinking. 


How do these activities affect our hearing? It’s all related to how we move blood around our bodies. 


The role of blood circulation in hearing loss


The significance of blood circulation in hearing health is one element in hearing loss that many individuals are unaware of. 


From our middle ear’s tiny, fragile bones to the attuned hair cells of the inner ear, our auditory system comprises several delicate sensory organs. Adequate circulation and oxygen supply are essential for the entire system to function correctly.


When your circulation is compromised, your auditory system’s structures can become starved. Many of these structures are so sensitive that they cannot recover or regenerate once they have been damaged. This may explain why certain drugs that affect circulation and certain diseases like iron deficiency anemia have been associated with an increased risk of hearing loss


The amount of exercise we get and the substances we consume alter blood circulation in our bodies, which may hold the key to understanding how smoking and alcohol affect our hearing health.


Smoking is bad for your hearing.


Cigarettes have long been associated with a variety of significant health issues. Long-term smoking has been linked to an increased risk of lung and throat cancer, emphysema, and heart disease, to name a few. Cigarette smoking has now been linked to harmful impacts on your hearing, according to new studies.


Tobacco use has been shown to increase the risk of hearing loss in studies. According to a recent World Health Organization report, smoking causes a 60 percent increased risk of hearing loss. According to previous American studies, the figure could be as high as 70%.


Because of the damages cigarettes do to a smoker’s cardiovascular system, they may cause hearing loss. Smoking makes blood circulation more difficult for the body and stresses circulatory structures by narrowing blood vessels. When the auditory system does not receive enough blood, sensitive hair cells might degrade, resulting in permanent hearing loss.


There’s some positive news to report. A recent study in the United Kingdom discovered that persons who stopped smoking had lower incidences of hearing loss. Hearing health is an added benefit of quitting smoking, which has been shown to boost your long-term and short-term health.


Beware of secondhand smoke too.


Prolonged exposure to secondhand smoke can increase the risk of hearing loss almost as much as a personal smoking habit. According to recent research from the United Kingdom, passive exposure to smoking increases the chance of hearing loss. Hearing loss risk increased by 28% in persons exposed to 2-9 hours of secondhand smoke each week. Hearing loss was shown to be 39 percent more likely in people who were exposed to more than 10 hours of passive smoke per week.


Too much alcohol might also be bad for your ears.


Alcohol usage and hearing loss research paint a more complicated picture. Alcohol, unlike cigarettes, does not cause our blood vessels to tighten, and alcohol, on the other hand, facilitates blood flow. Several studies have found that social and moderate alcohol drinking may be temporarily beneficial to hearing abilities.


Compared to lifelong teetotalers, moderate drinkers have a reduced risk of hearing loss of up to 40%. When compared to recent non-drinkers, drinkers have a somewhat lower chance of hearing loss.


Unfortunately, heavy drinkers may find that the benefits of a bit of alcohol on their hearing are diminished. Alcohol can burden the cardiovascular system and the hepatic system—organs that process blood—leading to circulation problems in the auditory system once again. If you drink frequently, be sure you do so responsibly.


Treating Hearing Loss

If you are ready to improve your hearing health, we’re here to help! We offer complete auditory testing and hearing aid fitting, programming, and repair. If you’re concerned about your hearing or have recently detected a problem with your hearing, contact us today to set up an appointment.