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Musician Attributes Hearing Loss to Electronic Cigarettes

Australian musician Rob Swire recently toot to Twitter to bash electronic cigarettes, more specifically the propylene glycol in the e-liquid, for causing him to temporarily lose hearing in his left ear.

Swire, the lead singer of drum and base band Pendulum and DJ of electronic dance music duo Knife Party, first tweeted about suddenly becoming deaf on July 5th, adding that he was going to see a doctor. The next day, Rob announced that his hearing had been restored and offered his followers a piece of advice: “if you enjoy being able to hear, e-cigs/vaping is a really f*****g bad idea”.

Rob-Swire

Obviously, fans were left wondering how exactly electronic cigarettes were responsible for his temporary loss of hearing. Luckily, the famous musician elaborated on his scary experience, saying that the chemical propylene glycol was to blame. Research has shown that the widely used solvent can be ototoxic – toxic to the cochlea, the spiral-like part of the inner ear, but only in cases of topical application. In a different tweet, Swire says propylene glycol is banned from use in ear drops precisely “because it can cause reversible/permanent damage, depending on exposure.”

While some of Swire’s fans pointed out that the research he was referring to only concerned topical application of propylene glycol, he replied that “the only reason there’s not much info out there regarding PG when inhaled is that the research hasn’t been done/e-cigs are relatively new.” Yes, e-cigs are quite new, but propylene glycol had been used in inhalers for years, and if this kind of problem had been reported, someone would have done the research. Or at least they should have. But they haven’t…  

After adopting a very aggressive stance against electronic cigarettes and propylene glycol, Rob Swire started toning down his statements: “Not saying anyone needs to panic, just… if you need your ears to work/earn money, tread carefully 🙂 Wouldn’t wish that s**t on anyone”.

Now, we could easily attribute Rob Swire’s reaction on Twitter to fear and panic. Imagine that music wasn’t only a way to earn a living, but your whole life, a potentially permanent loss of hearing would be scary as hell. But after doing a bit of research online, I found others have associated hearing problems with vaping before.  

Reddit user LightAlright posted about experiencing a “blocked ear” feeling and mild hearing problems after vaping during a trip to Europe. Some suggested his symptoms may have been a simple case of clogged ears caused by high altitudes, but he claims that the same thing occurred weeks after quitting e-cigarettes, when he decided to give vaping another chance. He did however mention that he had pre-existing ENT (ear, nose and throat) problems which may have contributed to the problem.

Also, Twitter user @goldennike11 responded to one of Rob Swire’s tweets, saying that he was also deaf in one year for a few weeks, and only recovered after quitting vaping.  

These are just isolated cases, and to be perfectly honest, there is really no proof that vaping propylene glycol-based e-liquid actually causes hearing problems. Also, I’m not sure these are enough to justify scientific research on the relationship between inhaling PG and loss of hearing, although Swire tweeted about being willing to fund it himself.

Unfortunately, this is bound to cause even more panic among vapers. Hearing loss is nothing to joke about, and as soon as the media gets wind of Swire’s experience and turns it into a scaremongering story, people will start freaking out. If you’re concerned about your well-being, you should know quitting e-cigarettes and going back to smoking is definitely not the right choice. In fact, smoking analogs has also been associated with hearing loss multiple times, and in this case scientific studies have actually confirmed a link.

Obviously, quitting both vaping and smoking would be the ideal solution, but if that’s not possible for you, vegetable glycerin is a great alternative to propylene glycol. There are hundreds of max VG e-liquids out there that only contain mere traces of PG from the added flavorings and even a few 100% VG juices. Give them a try before you give up on vaping to go back to the already confirmed dangerous tobacco cigarettes.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

4 Comments/Reviews

  • Kelemvor says:

    if the study includes only loud playing rockstars it might get positive. 😀

    No way his deafness comes from his own music, no?

    totally Bullshit news. if it was true, he would be deaf before, or does he never used stage smoke.

  • Ash says:

    Utter codswallop.

  • Justin says:
    1 stars

    And PG is also used in smoke machines, has been for years. This guy is a musician, bet he’s played in plenty of places with smoke machines…

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