Posts Tagged ‘Sensorineural hearing loss’

Greetings All! I hope your holidays were festive and brought you much happiness and peace! I’m hoping I will be able to get back to regular updates this year, but that will depend on Mom’s lymphoma, of course (keep your fingers crossed).

Today, I have an article – a guest post – from John O’Connor. His blog site is here http://bloggingwjohno.blogspot.com/, and I encourage you to check out his posts.

I am considering more guest posts/blogs, as well, so if there is a particular subject you’d like to read about, let me know!


Secondhand Smoke and Hearing Loss

Medical science is just scratching the surface in the study of secondhand smoke and its effect on the human body. It is not hard to make a correlation between inhaling smoke and respiratory ailments such as chronic bronchitis. The effect exposure to cigarette smoke has on hearing is less obvious, but becoming a source of concern –especially for adolescents.


Medical science continues to research the influence secondhand smoke has on the population. Recently, a group looked at data collected from the 2005-2006 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). The study targeted nonsmokers still in their teens.

Participants of the study had both their serum cotinine levels and hearing tested. Cotinine is an alkaloid produced by tobacco. A high blood level indicates exposure to cigarette smoke even though the teens were nonsmokers. The results show those with high levels of cotinine in their blood had sensorineural hearing loss.

Sensorineural Hearing Loss

Sensorineural hearing loss involves the understanding of sound. Ear anatomy consists of chambers that collect sound waves. Deep inside the ear is the inner most chamber that connects to nerves which transmit sound to the brain for interpretation. Hearing loss occurs because the ear loses its ability either to move the sound waves to the inner ear, conductive loss, or to interpret the sound once it reaches the chamber. Sensorineural hearing loss indicates damage to the auditory vestibular nerve, the elements of the inner ear or the center of the brain that understands sound. It is the inability to make sense of what you hear.

Hearing aids amplify or modulate sound for those with conductive hearing loss. Cochlear implants can sometimes improve hearing for those individuals with nerve damage. A hearing aid is no help if you have sensorineural damage.

Hearing Loss in Teens

The study shows that teens with higher levels of cotinine in their blood presented with both low and high frequency sensorineural hearing loss. This means they had trouble interpreting tones in different pitch ranges. By further breaking down the group based on bloods levels of cotinine, 17.05 percent of teens with high exposure showed marked hearing loss in at least one ear. Most teens were unaware of the change in their hearing.

Analyzing the Data

The data from this study indicates a correlation between secondhand smoke and hearing loss at all frequency levels. Loss in the mid to higher frequencies inhibits the ability to understand words. Hearing loss at a young age will affect language skills, cognitive function and academic progress.

Scientists believe the study indicates the damage is to the sensitive elements of the inner ear. Hearing aides would be of no help with this form of damage.

The banning of smoking in public areas is a controversial subject – many smokers feel discriminated against. In most states, smoking is prohibited in restaurants, bars and public buildings. More and more companies are regulating smoking in the work place. Studies like this one show that secondhand smoke presents a global risk to everyone’s healthy lifestyle. The damage done to teens from exposure to cigarette smoke is irreversible.


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Patsy L Holden M.A.

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