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Does your family repeatedly ask you to turn down the volume on the TV or radio? Do you frequently have to ask people to repeat what they’ve said? Do people seem to mumble a lot lately? Do you have trouble understanding what’s being said from the pulpit or stage? Do you lose the thread of conversation at the dinner table or at family gatherings?

Are you afraid that you’re going deaf?

If so, don’t write it off as old age. If you smoke cigarettes or have allergies to foods or inhalants, your hearing loss could be reversible.

Cigarette smoking seems to hasten deafness. A doctor in Cairo studied the effect of smoking on hearing loss in 150 smokers and 150 non-smokers. ‘Average hearing loss in smokers was significantly higher than in non-smokers,’ says Amal S. Ibrahim.

Cigarette smoke has a number of damaging effects on the delicate structures that make up the inner ear, and all of these effects contribute to hearing loss. One of them is an allergic reaction in the mucous membranes of the eustachian tube and the middle ear, says Dr Ibrahim.

Allergy to tobacco smoke may cause Eustachian [tube] blockages symptoms of sinus trouble and postnasal drip,’ says Dr Ibrahim (World Smoking and Health).

In a similar way, allergies to foods and inhalants can also impair hearing.

Nasal allergy from pollen or . . . airborne inhalants or dusts can also cause oedema [fluid retention] in the Eustachian tubes, middle ear or cochlea [hearing structures], resulting in impaired hearing,’ says Albert Rowe, Jr, co-author of the book Food Allergy.

If you lose your hearing, you live in a vacuum. So no effort should be spared to restore it – and that includes an investigation of allergy.

Incidentally, people who take high doses of aspirin daily for years – such as people with rheumatoid arthritis – may lose their hearing as a side effect of the drug. Hearing returns when aspirin dosage is reduced or discontinued.


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