Smoking cigarettes has been linked to lung cancer, throat cancer, chronic bronchitis, emphysema, allergies, and other breathing disorders; however, new research indicates smoking also leads to hearing loss.

A study from Western Michigan University, which involved more than 3000 men and women, indicated smokers were nearly 70 percent more likely to suffer hearing loss than non-smokers.

The primary consideration relates to lack of oxygen (hypoxia). Nicotine and carbon monoxide may actually deplete oxygen level to the cochlea, the auditory portion of the inner ear which is bathed in fluids and blood supply. If oxygen is depleted, tissue damage can occur.

Furthermore, if the interaction between nicotine and neurotransmitters in the auditory nerve is impaired, they can no longer tell the brain what is occurring in the hearing nerve.

Finally, the impact of teenage smoking is severe. Since the mechanisms within the hearing nerve have not been fully developed, the hearing nerve pathways are especially vulnerable if nicotine and other environmental toxins are introduced during the adolescent years.

Regardless of age, there are multiple reasons to kick the habit now regardless of how long you have been smoking. The best way is to avoid health problems associated with smoking is to never start smoking in the first place.

If you do smoke, consider having your hearing tested to see if you have already caused damage to your hearing. Ex-smokers may want to have their hearing tested to determine if damage has already occurred.

Qutting, even for one day, is an important step toward a healthier life and better hearing.