September 29, 2011 04:00 ET

Passive Smoking and Hearing Loss: Are Links Building Between the Two?

MANCHESTER, UNITED KINGDOM--(Marketwire - Sept. 29, 2011) - We all know the extreme health risks associated with smoking but what about the general negative impact on health. Leading hearing aid specialists Amplifon look at the growing research regarding a link between smoking and hearing problems.

Passive smoking has proved itself to be a major negative health issue that affects millions of people worldwide, as well as plenty of individuals in the UK. It has been linked to a higher risk of cancer, stronger correlation with heart disease, as well as a range of lung-related illnesses. The biggest risk group is understood to be children under the age of 18, who are at risk of the above as well as other conditions, from asthma to sudden infant death syndrome.

However, research is increasingly linking secondary smoking with hearing problems, in turn forcing individuals to seek professional help or technological devices to provide them with the clarity of hearing they deserve. In its capacity as the world's leading dedicated hearing aid specialist, Amplifon wants to highlight this issue to people around the world and lessen the chances of aural problems developing unnecessarily.

Following a detailed analysis of statistics, specialist journal Tobacco Control revealed in November 2010 that there was a strong pattern emerging between smoking and poor hearing. Former smokers were significantly more likely to have hearing impairments and, while the risk was not as strong among those who had never smoked, nearly one in ten had low-to-mid frequency hearing loss while over one in four had high frequency hearing loss.

There were also stronger findings among former smokers that underlined how passive smoking, even at low levels, would push the progression of high frequency hearing loss that started when they were active smokers. Further research to investigate the link was demanded by authors, though they would not have to wait long.

In July 2011, the links were found to be stronger than ever. NYU School of Medicine researchers revealed in that month's issue of Archives of Otolaryngology – Head & Neck Surgery that exposure to tobacco smoke nearly doubles the risk of hearing loss among adolescents. Perhaps the most worrying issue regarding this hearing loss was that over 80 per cent of affected teenagers in the study were not aware of any hearing problems. Dr Anil Lalwani of NYU explained: "Milder hearing loss is not necessarily noticeable. Thus, simply asking someone whether they think they have hearing loss is insufficient."

Amplifon is keeping track of research linking secondary smoking to hearing problems and is asking people to be responsible for their health as much as possible. Barry Downes, Head of Audiology at Amplifon, said: "While we all know the dangers of smoking, many people simply may not know just how far the activity goes in terms of affecting overall health."

"We are actively developing technology to support people affected by poor hearing, though the cure has never been a match for prevention. Hearing problems will continue to affect people around the world and we're dedicated to helping them, but we also want to highlight that many hearing issues are avoidable, such as hearing loss due to continuous exposure to loud noises such as machinery or music and a proactive approach will provide comfort for years to come."

About Amplifon

Amplifon are a worldwide leader in hearing solutions. Amplifon UK provide a hearing questionnaire on their website and free hearing tests through its network of over 200 hearing centres in the UK as well as expert advice and dedicated hearing care from professionally qualified hearing aid audiologists.


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