When you have pain, you may grab some aspirin or ibuprofen without much thought, but new research has shown risks you should be aware of.
Many prevalent pain relievers, including those bought over-the-counter, carry risks to your hearing that you’ll want to consider when taking them. Younger men, surprisingly, could carry a higher risk factor.
What Studies Say About Hearing Loss And Pain Killers
Prestigious universities, including Vanderbilt, Harvard, and Brigham Young, performed a comprehensive 30 year study. A bi-yearly questionnaire was sent to 27,000 individuals between the age of 40 and 74 which included health and lifestyle questions.
Because the questionnaire was so diverse, researchers were uncertain of what they would find. But the data demonstrated that over-the-counter pain relievers and loss of hearing had a solid correlation.
They also faced a more startling conclusion. Men who are under the age of 50 who regularly use acetaminophen were almost twice as likely to have hearing loss. People who regularly used aspirin had a 50% chance of suffering from hearing loss. And there is a 61% chance that hearing loss will develop in people who use NSAIDs (ibuprofen and naproxen).
It was also striking that using low doses frequently appeared to be more detrimental to their hearing than using higher doses occasionally.
We can’t be certain that the pain reliever actually caused this loss of hearing even though we can see a definite connection. Causation can only be demonstrated with more study. But we really need to rethink our use of these pain relievers after these persuasive results.
Present Theories About The Connection Between Pain Relievers And Hearing Loss
There are numerous theories as to why pain relievers might cause hearing loss which researchers have come up with.
Your nerves communicate the feeling of pain to your brain. Over-the-counter pain relievers work by reducing the flow of blood to specific nerves. This disrupts nerve signals that usually communicate with the brain, so you feel less pain.
Scientists believe this process also decreases blood flow in the inner ear. Lowered blood flow means less oxygen and nutrients. Cells will die from undernourishment if this blood flow is decreased for extended periods.
Also, there’s a specific protein that guards the inner ear from loud noises and it seems like acetaminophen, in particular, may block this.
Is There Anything That Can be Done?
Perhaps the most significant point to keep in mind is that men under 50 were more likely to suffer hearing loss from pain relievers. This verifies that hearing loss doesn’t just impact the elderly. The steps you take when you’re younger can help protect your hearing as you age.
While it’s significant to note that taking these pain relievers can have some negative consequences, that doesn’t mean you have to entirely stop using them. Use pain medication only when you absolutely need to and when using prescription medication, only as prescribed.
If you can discover alternative solutions you should consider them as a first option. It would also be a good idea to boost the Omega-3 fat in your diet and decrease foods that cause inflammation. These methods have been shown to naturally decrease inflammation and pain while strengthening blood flow.
And finally, make an appointment with us for a hearing test. Don’t forget, you’re never too young to get your hearing tested. If you’re younger than 50, now is the time to start talking to us about preventing further hearing loss.