In a recent report from the Archives of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, it was found that exposure to secondhand smoke is associated with an increased risk of hearing loss among adolescents. It was found that approximately 60 percent of U.S. children are exposed to second hand smoke leading to numerous illnesses and health complications including development of the auditory system which can lead to sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL).
The study included 1,533 individuals from 12 years to 19 years of age who participated in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey from 2005 to 2006. Their information was compared with teens who had no secondhand smoke exposure, and found those who were exposed to secondhand smoke exhibited higher rates of low- and high-frequency hearing loss. The rate of hearing loss appeared to be cumulative, increasing with the level of cotinine detected by blood tests. The results also demonstrated that more than 80 percent of participants with hearing loss did not realize they had impairment.
As hearing loss early in life can cause problems with development and functioning, the authors suggest that these results have “significant implications for public health in the United States.” They note that most adolescents do not receive screening for hearing loss. “Adolescents who are exposed to secondhand smoke may need to be more closely monitored for hearing loss,” the researchers conclude. “In addition, they should be educated about risk factors for hearing loss, such as recreational or occupational noise exposure and secondhand smoke.”