Sunday, May 19, 2024

Second-hand smoke can result hearing loss in your kid

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When you breathe in other people’s tobacco smoke (unintentionally or otherwise), it is called second-hand smoke or passive smoking. Second-hand smoke exposure results from mainstream or side-stream smoking. Side-stream smoke is produced while burning tobacco items, such as cigarettes, cigars, or pipes. Mainstream smoke is exhaled by a nearby smoker. Both sources emit airborne hazardous substances that have an impact on nonsmokers.

We have heard a lot about passive smoking being more harmful than direct smoking. However, we are only limited to knowing that be it direct smoking or second-hand smoking, it affects the lungs and heart and can cause cancer but the negative doesn’t stop here. Second-hand or passive smoking can also cause hearing loss which especially applies to children because their lungs are still undergoing vital stages of development, making them more susceptible to the harmful effects of second-hand smoke exposure. Even parents who deliberately limit their smoking to the outdoors unintentionally subject their children to the harmful chemicals that pervade the air.

Smoking is associated with decreased oxygen levels and increased blood viscosity, which can harm the fragile cochlear hair cells and result in probable hearing loss in children. More than 4,000 different compounds are found in second-hand smoke, also known as environmental tobacco smoke in science.

Living with a smoker doubles the risk of hearing loss in nonsmokers. Your chance of having hearing loss increases with the number of cigarettes you smoke on average each day. Smoking during pregnancy increases a child’s chance of having speech-language issues. It increases the likelihood of developing noise-induced hearing loss if you spend a lot of time near loud noise at work. Teenagers who are exposed to secondhand smoke have a two to three times higher risk of developing hearing loss, and they sometimes aren’t even aware of it. Infants and children with hearing loss who are not treated may experience substantial delays in speech and language development. The consequences include academic setbacks and socialization issues, highlighting the critical need to protect kids from the harmful effects of secondhand smoke. Quitting smoking will eliminate the source of exposure and foster a healthy atmosphere for the future of our children, which is the most efficient remedy for this urgent situation.

(The author Dr. Rohit Bhatia, MBBS, MS, (ENT Specialist) is the Director, Cochlea Advanced Surgical Center at Lucknow.)

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