You might think that your teenager’s hearing loss is subjective: Not hearing about completing the homework, getting off the internet or cleaning the pig sty which happens to be her room and yet hearing each and every cell call and tweet announcement. Well, if you or your significant other happen to be a smoker that hearing loss might be real.
A recent study found that children of smokers were much more likely to have a particular form of hearing loss compared with offspring of nonsmokers. These kids it appeared had greater odds of suffering sensineural hearing loss, which is caused by nerve damage and usually irreversible. To make matters even worse, the hearing loss was in the mid frequency range, making it more difficult to pick out differences between words.
It might be that nicotine or some other component of cigarrette smoke damaged the blood vessels of the hearing nerves, just as nicotine does with other vessels such as coronary arteries. The usual standard is to screen babies and young children for hearing loss rather than adolescents. What this study suggests however is might be a good idea to screen teenagers who are exposed to smoke.
How did the investigators determine who was exposed to smoke? People do lie and tell fish tales. Well, they measured levels of cotinine, a byproduct of nicotine. Higher levels meant more smoke exposure. The amount of hearing loss was related to the level of passive smoking: The higher the level of cotinine, the greater the risk for more hearing loss.
Other pleasant side effects of exposure to smoking include: low birth weight, more respiratory infections,problems with behavior and thinking and possibly increased risk for cancer down the road. More than half of US children are exposed, which of course is very concerning.
If you are a smoker and a parent, consider that your kids smoke right there with you. If your future health is not a strong enough reason to quit the habit, perhaps the health of your kids should be.