Hearing Loss Caused By Ecigs?

Posted 3rd February 2016 by Dave Cross
The Sacramento Bee is a Californian newspaper on a mission to support the state’s anti-ecig crusaders. It has published a plethora of lies and half-truths in its war on common sense and scientific evidence – but has it finally published an article with a scintilla of truth to it?

“Ecigarettes may also cause hearing loss”, they write. The Bee supports this headline with two subheading statements: “Damage to inner ear of teen is an overlooked potential health risk to vaping,” and “Nicotine reduces oxygen in the bloodstream and decreases blood flow.”

Dealing with the second one first: it’s an abject lie. Carbon monoxide (CO) causes a reduction in the oxygen content of blood as it binds to haemoglobin forming carboxyhaemoglobin – preventing it from carrying oxygen to cells as oxyhaemoglobin. But CO is only present in cigarette smoke and not vapour. And regarding blood flow, nicotine cause vasodilation not constriction thereby promoting blood flow.

So can vaping lead to deafness?

Rob Swire, musician with the bands Knife Party and Pendulum, tweeted that he believed he had suffered from an ototoxic reaction to vaping. There are posts on various Internet forums where vapers have complained of a ringing in their ear when vaping high-PG juices. None of these accounts constitute scientific evidence and Dr. Konstantinos Farsalinos doubted vaping could produce such symptoms at the time.


The Bee (with its history of writing about the gateway effect, advertising to children and calling for regulation) certainly seems to think the risk exists. But then they also think: “Those candy-flavoured lung polluters are full of the sort of carcinogenic junk that would repel consumers if the products didn’t have names like Super Fly Lemon Pie and optionally customized bootleg Hello Kitty equipment. Benzene. Formaldehyde. Acetaldehyde. Not to mention the stuff that’s merely addictive and a hazard to children, like nicotine.”

They cite Dave Fabry, vice-president of audiology for Starkey Hearing Technologies, who says: “Decreased blood flow and lower oxygen levels can damage those hair cells, resulting in hearing loss.” While this may be true he admits: “nicotine’s toxic effects on the ear are not fully understood.” Farsalinos has demonstrated the beneficial effect on blood pressure from switching from smoking to vaping.

The article contains further leaps of judgment wholly unsupported by research and evidence. While this is an area deserving of investigation, it remains impossible to state that there is a link. So, no, The Bee is still to produce an article on vaping that isn’t abject guff.

 Dave Cross
Article by Dave Cross
Freelance writer, physicist, karateka, dog walker