Hearing 'hit by passive smoking'

PASSIVE smoking could increase the risk of hearing loss, research has suggested.

A study found non-smokers who regularly breathed in other people's tobacco fumes faced a higher risk of experiencing some degree of hearing loss.

Previous research has suggested current and former smokers are more prone to lose some of their hearing.

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The latest American research, published in the journal Tobacco Control, assessed 3,307 adults aged 20 to 69 for their exposure to tobacco smoke and tested their hearing.

Hearing loss was assessed by examining the ability to hear pure tones over a range of frequencies, from 500hz (low) to 8,000Hz (high).

Former smokers were significantly more likely to have impaired hearing, with prevalence of low to mid frequency hearing loss in this group of 14 per cent. Some 46 per cent had high frequency hearing loss.

Almost one in ten of those who had never smoked also had low to mid frequency hearing loss, with 26 per cent having high frequency loss.

The research team said the stronger findings among former smokers suggested continued passive smoking in this group, even at low levels, could continue the progression of hearing loss than began when they were smokers.

However, they added that further research was required.