Those blaring headphones your teenager wears that are so loud you can hear them from across the room may not be what’s causing the most damage to his or her hearing.
A new study in the July issue of the Archives of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery suggests that teens who are regularly exposed to secondhand smoke are almost twice as likely to have hearing loss as those who live in a smoke-free environment.
It is no secret that second hand smoke can cause numerous health problems in children, including behavioral problems, asthma and lung infections.
Now, researchers have linked second hand smoke to hearing loss in adolescents at both high and low frequencies.
The study involved 1,533 non-smoking teenagers between the ages of 12 and 19 who were subjected to hearing tests to determine how well they could hear at both high and low frequencies. Researchers then measured the participants’ blood concentrations of cotinine —used as a biomarker for exposure to tobacco smoke.
Roughly 12 percent of teens exposed to secondhand smoke had mild to severe hearing loss in one ear, compared to less than eight percent of kids without smoke exposure, Reuters Health reported.
More than 80 percent of the affected kids were unaware that they had undergone any hearing loss.
Although it is too early to say definitively exactly how smoking relates to hearing loss, with up to 50% of American kids exposed to second-hand smoke either at home or in public, it makes less sense than ever for smokers to keep lighting up.