[ Back to EurekAlert! ] Public release date: 3-Nov-2008
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Contact: Jessica Mikulski
newsroom@entnet.org
703-535-3762
American Academy of Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery

Smokers see decline in ability to smell, rise in laryngitis, and upper airway issues

New research supports call to quit smoking and smokeless tobacco

Alexandria, VA - As Americans prepare for a day without cigarettes and tobacco products as part of the American Cancer Society Great American Smokeout (R) (November 20), new research gives them more reasons to extend that break to a lifetime, according to the American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery Foundation (AAO-HNSF). Among the new research presented at the organization's annual meeting in September 2008 are studies that link cigarette smoking and upper airway symptoms ("smoker's nose"), the loss of smokers' ability to smell common odors, and most alarming, the role second-hand smoke plays in the rise of cases of "environmental laryngitis."

The first study, presented by Norwegian researchers, reveals that among 2,294 patients being evaluated for obstructive sleep apnea, snoring, or nose-related issues, smokers were 12 to 27 percent higher than non-smokers in 8 of the 13 possible symptoms. The researchers believe that quitting smoking should be a primary therapeutic measure for patients with these upper airway ailments.

In another study, Brazilian researchers examined the link between smoking and loss of smell. In a clinical study examining 56 healthy volunteers, current and former smokers in the group had greater trouble smelling butanol, an alcohol used widely in odor testing because of its distinct and powerful smell. The authors believe this confirms that smokers will experience altered ability to smell as they continue the habit.

A third study cites second-hand tobacco smoke as one of the primary causes of what the authors term "environmental laryngitis," along with allergens and air pollution. The study, authored by researchers at the University of California-Davis, indicates through animal models that exposure to second-hand smoke can trigger laryngitis symptoms, including hoarseness, cough, and chronic clearing of the throat. Researchers and physicians have generally attributed laryngitis to a viral infection and overuse of the voice; however, this new research now raises significant concerns surrounding the condition, especially as air quality and ozone levels worldwide continue to decline.

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The annual observance of the American Cancer Society Great American Smokeout (R), held this year on November 20, is a nationwide call to action urging the nation's nearly 5 million smokers to kick their habit for that critical first day, and educate them on reasons to continue to stay free of smoke and tobacco. More information can be found at www.cancer.org/GreatAmericans.

Reporters who wish to obtain abstracts for these studies should contact newsroom@entnet.org.

About the AAO-HNS

The American Academy of Otolaryngology Head and Neck Surgery (www.entnet.org), one of the oldest medical associations in the nation, represents nearly 12,000 physicians and allied health professionals who specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of disorders of the ears, nose, throat, and related structures of the head and neck. The Academy serves its members by facilitating the advancement of the science and art of medicine related to otolaryngology and by representing the specialty in governmental and socioeconomic issues. The organization's vision: "Empowering otolaryngologist-head and neck surgeons to deliver the best patient care."



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