A new study shows a strong link between smoking and hearing loss. The startling statistics show that smokers have a 15.1% higher odds of hearing loss than non-smokers. Experiencing second hand smoke increases those odds by 28%.

Researchers took samples from 164, 770 adults, aged 40 to 69 years of age who have taken hearing tests within 2007 and 2010. It was concluded that the amount and length of a smoker’s habit greatly increases the potential for hearing loss. It’s unclear why exactly this happens, but scientists have speculated that the dangerous chemicals in cigarettes may affect the ear hair cells and middle ear vibrations. Nicotine, in particular, has been associated with hearing disorders, such tinnitus and vertigo.

Hearing damage from smoking is not just limited to the inner ear. The brain’s ability to identify and interpret sounds becomes impaired as well. Smoking also makes your ears more sensitive to loud noises, thus causing damage from loud noises to be even more severe.  Hearing loss symptoms can become aggravated when smoking is in combination with age and noise exposure.

This study may be a turning point for the popular notion that hearing loss and age are inevitable. To further protect your hearing, it’s advised that you give up smoking and preserve your ears from loud noises. If you smoke, or have in the past, it’s recommended that you have your hearing checked.

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