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July 19, 2011 - Adolescents who are exposed to secondhand smoke have nearly double the risk of hearing loss than those who are not exposed, according to a study published in Archives of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery. The study involved more than 1,500 people nationwide ages 12 to 19 and is the first to show a connection between hearing loss in adolescents and exposure to tobacco smoke. Participants were given extensive hearing tests and blood samples were taken to measure cotinine levels and determine secondhand smoke exposure. The youths with higher cotinine levels were more likely to experience sensorinueral hearing loss , a condition most often caused by problems with the cochlea, a snail-shaped organ in the inner ear. Exposed teens preformed worse across every sound frequency tested, especially mid-to-high frequencies which are important in understanding speech. More than 80% of affected teens in the study were not aware they had a hearing impairment, as milder hearing loss is not always noticeable. Researchers suggest that children exposed to secondhand smoke be regularly screened for hearing problems.
For more information, please visit http://www.webmd.com/smoking-cessation/news/20110718/secondhand-smoke-may-hurt-teens-hearing
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