Smoking Damages Ear Health and Complicates Ear Surgery
It has long been known that active smoking exerts a negative effect on normal ear functioning and hearing by chronically irritating the Eustachian tube and the lining of the middle ear. Smokers tend to have more chronic ear disease requiring surgical correction, and have more advanced disease at presentation than their non-smoking counterparts. Their hearing commonly suffers as a result.
A new study presented at the 2007 AAO-HNSF Annual Meeting & OTO EXPO has shown for the first time that once surgery is performed to rid smokers of their ear disease, their postoperative hearing acuity is significantly worse than non-smokers who undergo similar surgery. They are also prone to more complications and need more revision surgery on average than non-smokers. The large retrospective study examined 1,531 procedures in 1,183 patients for ear disease from 1990-2004. Patients included 846 smokers, 291 nonsmokers, and 74 former smokers. Most importantly, patients who smoked had worse preoperative and postoperative hearing. However, those who had been smoke-free for more than five years attained recovery rates similar to nonsmokers.
These study results provide for millions of smokers who suffer from chronically infected ears and some forms of hearing loss, scientific evidence that renewed efforts to quit will positively impact their treatment course and perhaps protect their ability to hear.
About the AAO-HNS
The American Academy of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery (www.entnet.org), one of the oldest medical associations in the nation, represents more than 12,000 physicians and allied health professionals who specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of disorders of the ears, nose, throat, and related structures of the head and neck. The Academy serves its members by facilitating the advancement of the science and art of medicine related to otolaryngology and by representing the specialty in governmental and socioeconomic issues. The organization’s mission: “Working for the Best Ear, Nose, and Throat Care.”