If your teenager doesn’t seem to respond when you ask him  for umpteenth time to please stop tweeting, texting or engaging in yet another mindnumbing online game, it might not be that he’s not listening. Some teens suffer hearing loss from the usual culprits: turning that Ipod on max volume and blasting some for you indecipherable hip hop into unsuspecting ears.

If you happen to be a smoker, then your kid just might be suffering hearing loss from passive smoking. Yes, passive smoking or being exposed to the smoke of another, is not as benign as once thought. There is an increased risk of developing lung cancer, pneumonia, asthma, developing behavorial problems and low birth weight, just to mention a few. Now added to the list of pleasantries is hearing loss. A recent study found that adolescents exposed to smoke had almost double the risk of suffering hearing loss compared with their peers with no smoke exposure. Furthermore, the greater the smoke exposure (which can be measured through a blood test), the greater the hearing loss. The hearing seemed to be affected in the low frequency range (think baritone).

The injury was thought to be due to smoke exposure causing problems to the blood supply of the inner ear and perhaps direct damage to the inner ear from nicotine. Hearing loss in children not only results in delayed language skills, it can also cause cognition problems. Because of this, at risk teenagers should be screened for hearing loss. Better yet,  as a smoking parent, quit the tobacco. You will feel and look better. You will likely be on the planet longer. Your kids will be more likely to hear what you have been saying about tweeting and so forth. The downside is that hearing what you’re saying does not necessarily translate into listening.