Over the past few years, medical science has revealed the dangers of secondhand smoke. Researchers have found that secondhand smoke is just as dangerous for the lungs as firsthand smoke and that the toxins from secondhand smoke are just as destructive as those a smoker breathes directly. Now, a recent clinical trial has found that exposure to secondhand smoke could even negatively affect hearing.
For the study, researchers questioned 1,533 teens about their health status and family medical history. They then asked about exposure to secondhand smoke and whether or not the teens had any knowledge of a hearing problem. The research team further gathered data by giving physicals, which included blood testing for “cotinine” (a byproduct of nicotine exposure) and hearing tests.
The researchers found that teens who had been exposed to secondhand smoke had higher rates of low- and high-frequency hearing loss than their peers who were not exposed. The study team noted that, judging by cotinine levels, the severity of the hearing loss depended on how much exposure the teens had. On a side note, it’s interesting that 80% of the teens suffering from hearing loss didn’t even realize they had a problem.
The researchers would like to see teens who have been exposed to secondhand smoke more closely monitored for hearing impairment. According to the study’s authors, about 60% of children in the United States are exposed to secondhand smoke. These children are at greater risk for certain health problems, from respiratory infections to behavioral difficulties and otitis media (acute ear infection).
It was not clear whether or not older adults were equally at risk for hearing problems when exposed to secondhand smoke.
Regardless of future results reporting on any links between secondhand smoke and hearing loss, take the following health advice. Educate yourself and others about the potential danger of secondhand smoke. Cigarette smoke contains more than 4,000 chemicals, including 43 that are thought to cause cancer. It has been reported that regular exposure to secondhand smoke can increase a non-smoker’s chance of getting cancer by 30%.