Researchers, led by an Indian origin scientist, have indicated that exposure to second hand smoke (SHS) is associated with increased risk of hearing loss among adolescents.
Studies have associated exposure to second hand smoke prenatally or during childhood with various health conditions, from low birth weight and respiratory infections to behavioural problems and otitis media. Children exposed to SHS are more likely to develop recurrent otitis media, the authors said.
"Second hand smoke may also have the potential to have an impact on auditory development, leading to sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL)," they added.
Anil K. Lalwani, M.D., and colleagues from NYU Langone Medical Center in New York City examined the risk factors for SNHL, including SHS, among adolescents, stratified by demographic groups.
Compared with teens who had no SHS exposure, those who were exposed to secondhand smoke exhibited higher rates of low- and high-frequency hearing loss. The rate of hearing loss appeared to be cumulative, increasing with the level of cotinine detected by blood tests. The results also demonstrated that more than 80 percent of participants with hearing loss did not realize they had the impairment.
The study has been published in the Archives of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery.