Second hand smoke (SHS) exposure, either in utero or during childhood, has been linked to low birth weight, sudden infant death syndrome, upper and lower respiratory infections, increased asthma severity, dental caries, behavioral problems, ADHD, emotional problems, and otitis media (OM).To our knowledge, no previous study has examined the possible association between SHS and sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL) in adolescent.
The study objectives were to (1) exam risk factors for sensorial hearing loss in different age, gender, race, and income/poverty groups among adolescents (age 12 to 19) in the U.S. using data from most recent waves of NHANES (2005–2006); and, (2) evaluate the independent association between SHS and sensorial hearing loss among adolescents.
Cross-sectional analysis of nationally representative data.
National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2005–2006.
1533 non-institutionalized adolescents age 12–19 who underwent audiometric testing, had serum cotinine levels available, and were not actively smoking.
The serum cotinine levels, presence of household smokers, and self-report of smoking were used to determine SHS exposure and active smoking. Low frequency hearing loss was defined as the average pure tone level greater than 15 dB for 500, 1000, and 2000 Hz; high frequency hearing loss was defined as the average pure tone level greater than 15 dB for 3, 4, 6, and 8 kHz.
SHS exposure was associated with elevated pure tone hearing levels at 2, 3 and 4 kHz. and 1.8 fold increased risk of unilateral low frequency SNHL in multivariate analyses (95% C.I.: 1.08-3.46). The incidence of SNHL was directly related to level of SHS exposure as reflected in serum cotinine levels. In addition, nearly 82% of adolescents with low frequency SNHL did not report hearing difficulty.
SHS is associated with increased incidence of LFSNHL that is directly related to level of exposure. The affected individuals are unaware of the hearing loss. Therefore, early identification and prevention of hearing loss related to SHS may produce significant public health benefits.