Sunday, July 15, 2012


How Smoking and Nutrition Affect Your Hearing

Hearing is one of the five basic senses that perceive and interpret the world around us. When there is something physically or neurologically wrong with the way the brain receives sensory information, it can affect your behavior, reactions and quality of life. The choices you make can affect your hearing. When you choose to stay in an environment that hurts your ears or when you pick unhealthy habits such as smoking, you can make your current hearing issues worse.

Role that Smoking Plays in Hearing Loss

Many people believe that hearing loss is a normal part of the aging process, but recent research that was performed on teenagers exposed to secondhand smoke at home showed they were more likely to have sensorineural hearing loss than those who hadn’t. . Sensorineural hearing loss is a problem with the inner ear that occurs if the hair follicle receives an injury or dies. This type of hearing loss is common in seniors and cannot be reversed.

These teenagers had problems with every sound frequency tested but particularly the mid-to-high frequency ranges that are essential for understanding what you hear. Those with the greatest exposure to cigarette smoke had low frequency losses as well. Smoke restricts the blood vessels and results in less blood flow to the ears, but additional research performed on animals also showed there are nicotine receptors in the hair follicles. If smoke binds to those receptors, it creates a toxic situation that can destroy the hair follicle and cause hearing loss and other problems.

Role of Nutrition

While smoking or being exposed to second hand smoke can contribute to your need for a  hearing aid, , research has also looked at the role that nutrition plays. Hearing loss coincides with low levels of calcium and low bone density. Other studies have looked into B-12 deficiency and inadequate levels of folate. B-12 affects the neurological and vascular systems connected to hearing. When B-12 and folate are low, homocysteine is high. That can interfere with circulation and damage the nerves in the inner ear.

What You Can Do

Aging and loud noises certainly play into hearing loss, but you are not helpless to make a difference. Incorporating healthy living into your life can reverse middle ear tendencies to retain fluid and stop further deterioration of your inner ear. If you currently smoke, consider entering a program that can help you to stop. If you’ve living a sedentary lifestyle, search out ways to become more active. Daily exercise will help to increase bone density and help the body hang onto more calcium.

Studying nutritional principles and changing your dietary habits can also help. B-12 is found in dairy products, and folate comes in dark green leafy vegetables such as spinach. As research into hearing loss continues to unfold, it’s becoming more obvious that many of the problems associated with aging are not actually connected to aging at all. When you take the steps to avoid toxins and boost nutrition and
exercise today, you can avoid further hearing problems tomorrow.

John O'Connor is a father, husband, lover of sports and the outdoors and new found blogger.  He is passionate about healthy aging and living a healthy lifestyle especially in terms of hearing loss.  He feels hearing loss is a major problem and that it is important to spread awareness due to the lack of understand around the issue.

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