Doctors already knew that smoking can damage hearing, but new data shows that even exposure to secondhand smoke significantly increases the risk of hearing loss, according to a study from the journal Tobacco Control.
Findings revealed that tobacco smoke causes a disruption in the blood flow of the ear, starving it of oxygen and allowing buildup of toxic waste. This is a different type of hearing loss compared to that of aging and noise exposure.
The study from the University of Miami and Florida International University collected data from the hearing tests of more than 3,000 non-smoking adults.
The volunteers also had blood tests to look for the presence of cotinine, a chemical found in the body after exposure to tobacco smoke.
Researchers said the adults exposed to smoke were far more likely to have poor hearing, to the point where they may even find it difficult to follow a conversation if combined with background noise.