June 2020 Medical Dialogues
Smoking is known to be associated with a higher risk of hearing loss. Now, a recent study published in The American Journal of Medicine has found that higher risk may diminish over time after quitting. Hearing loss or hearing impairment is caused by dysfunction of the inner ear. It may occur in one or both ears. Previous studies have shown a higher risk of hearing loss among cigarette smokers but there is a dearth of data on whether this risk is influenced by smoking cessation. Brian M. Lin, Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, Mass, and colleagues prospectively investigated the association between smoking, smoking cessation and risk of hearing loss. The study involved 81,505 women in the Nurses' Health Study II (1991-2013). Smoking and hearing status information was obtained from validated biennial questionnaires. Smoking was associated with higher risk of hearing loss and the risk tended to be higher with greater number of pack-years smoked. The magnitude of elevated risk diminished with greater time since smoking cessation.