Updated: Wednesday, 13th November 2019 @ 5:02pm

Smokers and passive smokers more likely to go DEAF, claims Manchester University study

Smokers and passive smokers more likely to go DEAF, claims Manchester University study

| By Kate Brady

Smokers have a 15% higher chance of going deaf than non-smokers, according to University of Manchester research.

Passive smoking also increases the likelihood of hearing loss by 28%, but ex-smokers have a slightly lower of going deaf as many former smokers adopt a generally healthier lifestyle.

The study, funded by Action on Hearing Loss, Medical Research Council and the National Institute for Health Research, revealed that giving up or reducing smoking and avoiding passive exposure to tobacco smoke was also found to possibly reduce the risk of hearing loss.

Dr Piers Dawes, from the Centre for Human Communication and Deafness at The University of Manchester who led the research, said: "Given around 20% of the UK population smoke and up to 60% in some countries, smoking may represent a significant cause of hearing loss worldwide.

"We found the more packets you smoke per week and the longer you smoke, the greater the risk you will damage your hearing."

Researchers at the university studied 164,770 adults, aged 40-69 years old, who took hearing tests between 2007 and 2010.

Although the link between smoking and hearing loss is still unclear as many smokers were also found to often have heart disease.

Lead researchers remain unsure whether toxins in tobacco smoke affect hearing directly, or whether smoking-related cardiovascular disease causes microvascular changes that impact on hearing.

The study found that the increased risk among passive smokers, which was higher than that for smokers, could be because smokers were compared to both complete non-smokers and passive non-smokers.

Researchers at the university said this means the association with smoking and hearing loss may actually be under estimated.

Dr Ralph Holme, Head of Biomedical Research at Action on Hearing Loss, said: “Hearing loss affects 10 million people in the UK and with an aging population is set to become a major public health issue. 

“Hearing loss is often viewed as an inevitable consequence of aging, but as the research published today shows this may not always be the case.”

Dr Holme suggested that giving up smoking and protecting your ears from loud noise are two practical steps that could prevent hearing loss later in life.

Picture courtesy of Max Braun, with thanks