Objectives. In the present study, we aimed to determine the effect of both active and passive smoking on the prevalence of the hearing impairment and the hearing thresholds in different age groups through the analysis of data collected from the Korea National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (KNHANES). Study Design. Cross-sectional epidemiological study. Methods. The KNHANES is an ongoing population study that started in 1998. We included a total of 12,935 participants aged ≥19 years in the KNHANES, from 2010 to 2012, in the present study. Pure-tone audiometric (PTA) testing was conducted and the frequencies tested were 0.5, 1, 2, 3, 4, and 6 kHz. Smoking status was categorized into three groups; current smoking group, passive smoking group and non-smoking group. Results. In the current smoking group, the prevalence of speech-frequency bilateral hearing impairment was increased in ages of 40-69, and the rate of high frequency bilateral hearing impairment was elevated in ages of 30-79. When we investigated the impact of smoking on hearing thresholds, we found that the current smoking group had significantly increased hearing thresholds compared to the passive smoking group and non-smoking groups, across all ages in both speech-relevant and high frequencies. The passive smoking group did not have an elevated prevalence of either speech-frequency bilateral hearing impairment or high frequency bilateral hearing impairment, except in ages of 40s. However, the passive smoking group had higher hearing thresholds than the non-smoking group in the 30s and 40s age groups. Conclusion. Current smoking was associated with hearing impairment in both speech-relevant frequency and high frequency across all ages. However, except in the ages of 40s, passive smoking was not related to hearing impairment in either speech-relevant or high frequencies.
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