Smoking damages hearing

How harmful is smoking for hearing? And what to this sense when tobacco smoking stops? An American study provides answers

Key take-aways on the relation between cigarette consumption and hearing loss

Analysis of smoking behaviour and consequences for hearing

A research group led by Dr Emmanuel E. Garcia Morales studied the effect of nicotine abuse and smoking cessation on hearing.

The cross-sectional study included 3,414 participants aged 72 to 94 years and collected data on smoking behaviour over a period of 30 years. Finally, hearing was assessed by means of hearing and speech intelligibility tests.

Study participants were divided into three cohorts according to the anamnestic data

The result: Individuals who remained active smokers performed worse in both tests than people from the other groups. It is also interesting that subjects who gave up smoking during the study heard equally well as non-smokers or ex-smokers.

This suggests that cessation can have a beneficial effect on hearing, whereas continued tobacco use damages hearing.

Conclusion for medical practice

When it comes to the heart, vessels and lungs, many patients are aware of the damaging influence of smoking. But the connection between nicotine abuse and hearing is certainly unknown to many. Therefore, it may be worth a try to make people with impaired hearing and a smoking history aware of this further negative effect of smoking. Perhaps this finding can give them a further nudge to quit.


Garcia Morales EE, Ting J, Gross AL, Betz JF, Jiang K, Du S, Power MC, Reed NS, Sharrett AR, Lin FR, Deal JA. Association of Cigarette Smoking Patterns Over 30 Years With Audiometric Hearing Impairment and Speech-in-Noise Perception: The Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities Study. JAMA Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2022 Mar 1;148(3):243-251. doi: 10.1001/jamaoto.2021.3982. PMID: 35084441; PMCID: PMC8796063.