Research Article

Journal of the Association for Research in Otolaryngology

, Volume 15, Issue 4, pp 663-674

First online:

Cigarette Smoking, Passive Smoking, Alcohol Consumption, and Hearing Loss

  • Piers DawesAffiliated withHCD Office, School of Psychological Sciences, Ellen Wilkinson Building, University of Manchester Email author 
  • , Karen J. CruickshanksAffiliated withDepartment of Population Health Sciences, School of Medicine and Public Health, University of WisconsinDepartment of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, School of Medicine and Public Health, University of Wisconsin
  • , David R. MooreAffiliated withCincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center
  • , Mark Edmondson-JonesAffiliated withOtology and Hearing group, Division of Clinical Neuroscience, School of Medicine, University of NottinghamNIHR—Nottingham Hearing Biomedical Research Unit, University of Nottingham
  • , Abby McCormackAffiliated withOtology and Hearing group, Division of Clinical Neuroscience, School of Medicine, University of NottinghamNIHR—Nottingham Hearing Biomedical Research Unit, University of NottinghamMedical Research Council, Institute of Hearing Research
  • , Heather FortnumAffiliated withOtology and Hearing group, Division of Clinical Neuroscience, School of Medicine, University of NottinghamNIHR—Nottingham Hearing Biomedical Research Unit, University of Nottingham
  • , Kevin J. MunroAffiliated withHCD Office, School of Psychological Sciences, Ellen Wilkinson Building, University of ManchesterCentral Manchester University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Manchester Academic Health Science Centre

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Abstract

The objective of this large population-based cross-sectional study was to evaluate the association between smoking, passive smoking, alcohol consumption, and hearing loss. The study sample was a subset of the UK Biobank Resource, 164,770 adults aged between 40 and 69 years who completed a speech-in-noise hearing test (the Digit Triplet Test). Hearing loss was defined as speech recognition in noise in the better ear poorer than 2 standard deviations below the mean with reference to young normally hearing listeners. In multiple logistic regression controlling for potential confounders, current smokers were more likely to have a hearing loss than non-smokers (odds ratio (OR) 1.15, 95 % confidence interval (CI) 1.09–1.21). Among non-smokers, those who reported passive exposure to tobacco smoke were more likely to have a hearing loss (OR 1.28, 95 %CI 1.21–1.35). For both smoking and passive smoking, there was evidence of a dose-response effect. Those who consume alcohol were less likely to have a hearing loss than lifetime teetotalers. The association was similar across three levels of consumption by volume of alcohol (lightest 25 %, OR 0.61, 95 %CI 0.57–0.65; middle 50 % OR 0.62, 95 %CI 0.58–0.66; heaviest 25 % OR 0.65, 95 %CI 0.61–0.70). The results suggest that lifestyle factors may moderate the risk of hearing loss. Alcohol consumption was associated with a protective effect. Quitting or reducing smoking and avoiding passive exposure to tobacco smoke may also help prevent or moderate age-related hearing loss.

Key words

age-related hearing loss presbycusis smoking passive smoking alcohol