Smoking & tobacco consumption – Ear, nose & throat (ENT) issues


Consumption of tobacco products and smoking is responsible for over 1 million deaths every year in India, according to the World Health Organization. Smoking and tobacco consumption is the single largest cause of various diseases such as cardiovascular disease and Ear, Nose & Throat problems such as aggravating sinusitis, head and neck cancers, hearing loss, ear infections, etc. 

At Dr Rao’s ENT we not only specialize in bringing world class ENT treatment to India but also sensitize patients about various health topics. On the occasion of World No Tobacco Day, we have compiled a comprehensive list of ENT conditions caused by the consumption of tobacco products.

“Tobacco kills more than 1 million people each year in India!”

Does tobacco consumption cause head and neck cancers?

Tobacco is one of the leading causes of mouth and voice box cancers. Typically oral, head and neck cancers refer to carcinoma of the tongue, mouth, throat and voice box. Head and neck cancer also refer to other types of cancers of the nasal cavity, sinuses, thyroid glands, etc. What makes tobacco consumption fatal is 66% of the cases are detected in very late stages of cancer thereby increasing it’s fatality. Cigarette smoking increases the risk of head and neck cancer by 15 times! Most of these cancers can be prevented simply by staying away from smoking and other forms of tobacco consumption.

How does smoking affect your sinuses?

One of the reasons why smoking is deadly is that it affects all the parts which it gets into contact right from your lips to lungs. Membranes in your sinuses are a protective mechanism for your respiratory system and keep you safe from airborne particulate matter, bacteria, etc thanks to cilia which are hair like structures present in the sinuses. Smoking affects these cilia causing sinus infections, allergic reactions, etc. In cases of regular smoking, you may develop chronic sinusitis. Also if you are planning to undergo sinus surgery, chances are you may not get the expected results due to smoking!

Does smoking cause hearing loss and ear infections?

Smoking and nicotine affect the health of your inner ear which may lead to hearing loss! Cigarette smoke interferes with the neurotransmitters which are responsible for your hearing. They are also responsible for irritating the Eustachian tube and lining of the middle ear. 

Pediatric hearing loss

As a result your ear becomes susceptible to infections, sensitive to loud noises and in the long term to hearing loss! Though smoking may directly not cause Tinnitus, it has been observed that smokers are more susceptible to tinnitus than non-smokers. For preserving your hearing, it is highly recommended to stay away from tobacco.

Smoking irritates and damages the sensitive tissues in the ear, nose and throat exposing them to different infections. Smoking reduces your overall immunity thereby making you vulnerable to contract infections. Even if you are not a smoker, second hand smoke or passive smoking can also lead to numerous health problems including ear, nose and throat infections.

Does cigarette smoke cause allergy?

Cigarette smoke contains several harmful irritants and leads to allergic rhinitis. Smoking and exposure to passive smoking can cause symptoms such as headache, watery eyes, sneezing, itchiness, and other allergy symptoms. Children are more sensitive to passive smoking and allergic symptoms are triggered more easily.

What are the other non-cancerous ENT problems caused by smoking and tobacco consumption?

If the list of fatal, cancerous problems caused by smoking and tobacco consumption was not enough to scare you, here is a list of non-cancerous ENT problems caused by smoking –

Say NO to tobacco!

It is well known that tobacco consumption and smoking is a major cause of cardio-vascular and a long list of ear, nose, throat related issues. If you are a smoker or consume tobacco in any form, it is never too late to quit the habit. 


The costs – economic and physical far outweigh the pleasure smokers gain from the habit. Another point to remember is you are affecting your family and friends as well, as they are constantly exposed to second-hand smoke. Tobacco consumption is a ticking time bomb! This World No Tobacco day let us pledge to give up tobacco products and preserve our health for years to come.

About the author

Best ent doctor hyderabad | Dr.GVK Chaitanya Rao

Dr. Chaitanya Rao, Managing director at Dr. Rao’s ENT group of hospitals has 10 years experience in the field of ENT.

His special areas of interest include Nose & sinus surgeries, Otology, Snoring and sleep apnea surgeries. During his Post-graduation itself he was invited as a visiting physician to House Institute of Medical sciences, Los Angeles; Rhinology and Anterior skull base unit, Ohio State University Medical Centre, Columbus, Ohio and University of Michigan from where he picked up his skills.

He plays a key role (Course Director & co-ordinator) in giving hands on training to around 150 ENT surgeons every year from all around the world for initiating and improving their ENT surgical skills as a part of Hyderabad ENT Research Foundation initiatives.

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