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How Smoking & Drinking May Affect Hearing

How Smoking & Drinking May Affect Hearing

Can drinking and smoking have an impact on your hearing? Recent research suggests that smoking may cause more harm than you realize and that too many crazy Friday nights may be harming your hearing.


The Effects of Smoking on Hearing

It may surprise you to realize that smoking can cause hearing loss. You already know that smoking is unhealthy for you, damages your lungs, and is connected to an increased risk of cancer. Smoking can also cause coronary heart disease, stroke, weakened immune system function, and other health problems. But how do your lungs relate to your ears?

When smokers were compared to non-smokers in a recent study published in the Nicotine and Tobacco Research journal, it was determined that smokers were 40% more likely to have hearing loss! They have high-frequency hearing loss and can't understand high-pitched sounds. This meant they couldn't hear birds chirping outdoors, couldn't enjoy music as much as they used to, and had trouble interpreting women's and children's voices, which are higher pitched than men's.

People who smoked the most had the worse hearing, with those who smoked 20 cigarettes or more per day having a 70% higher chance of having hearing loss.


Hearing Loss and Alcoholism

Excessive drinking, like smoking, is harmful to one's health. A glass of wine with supper or a couple of beers won't hurt on a Friday night. However, overindulgence may have several harmful consequences.

When it comes to your hearing health, drinking can be extremely harmful. Drinking too much alcohol can harm your brain and cause irreversible cell death. Alcohol can impair the brain's central auditory cortex, which processes sounds. Even if your ears are delicate, your brain will be unable to process sound signals, and you will not understand the sounds around you.

According to a recent study from the University of Ulm in Germany, drinking can harm your ears, which discovered that, in addition to brain impairment, alcohol could harm the ears by depriving them of oxygen and causing cell damage. Higher rates of alcohol use, like smoking, are associated with more significant degrees of hearing loss. Therefore the best way to safeguard your hearing is to keep it to safe levels.



Hearing loss is caused by depriving the ears of oxygen, which the cells require to survive. The oxygen levels in the blood are reduced by the time it reaches the ears, and the cells in the ear are unable to operate. If this trend continues, the ear's cells will degrade and eventually die. Ototoxicity occurs when a circumstance or chemical is toxic to the ears, such as excessive smoking or drinking. Nicotine and alcohol affect the bloodstream, decreasing circulation and lowering blood oxygen levels.

Both smoking and drinking have various adverse effects on your health and produce a toxic environment for your ears. If you smoke or have trouble controlling your drinking, talk to your doctor about quitting so you can protect your health and your hearing.


When Is a Temporary Hearing Loss Permanent?

You may have experienced temporary hearing loss due to binge drinking or smoking. You may believe the noises around you are muted or that the volume has been turned down. You'll find it difficult to follow discussions and believe everyone is mumbling. Tinnitus is a buzzing or ringing feeling in the ears that many people experience when they have temporary hearing loss. These episodes may resolve in the morning, and you'll forget about them, but recurrent bouts of temporary hearing loss damage your ears. This temporary hearing loss will quickly turn into a permanent issue.


Hearing Loss Treatment

Have you observed hearing loss and are concerned about it due to your smoking or drinking habits? For a hearing exam, visit us today. We'll assess your hearing loss and assist you in selecting the best hearing aids for your lifestyle, hearing needs, and budget.