When you have pain, you may grab some ibuprofen or aspirin without much thought, but new research has shown risks you need to recognize.
You’ll want to consider the risks to your hearing that many over-the-counter and prescription pain medication carry before you decide to use them. Astonishingly, younger men may be at higher risk.
What Studies Say About Hearing Loss And Pain Relievers
A thorough, 30-year cooperative study was carried out among researchers from esteemed universities such as Harvard, Brigham Young, and Vanderbilt. The researchers asked 27,000 people ages 40 to 74, to complete a biyearly questionnaire that included numerous lifestyle and health questions.
Researchers were not sure what to expect because the questionnaire was very diverse. After analyzing the data, they were surprised to find a strong link between hearing loss and over-the-counter pain relievers.
The data also showed something even more surprising. Men who are under the age of 50 who frequently use acetaminophen were nearly two times as likely to have loss of hearing. The chance of initiating hearing loss is 50/50 for people who take aspirin regularly. And those who used NSAIDs (ibuprofen, naproxen) had a 61% chance of getting permanent hearing loss.
It was also striking that consuming low doses frequently appeared to be worse for their hearing than using higher doses once in a while.
We can’t be sure that the pain reliever actually caused this hearing loss even though we can see a distinct correlation. Causation can only be established with additional study. But these discoveries are compelling enough that we should rethink how we’re utilizing pain relievers.
Pain Relievers And Hearing Loss – Present Theories
Researchers have numerous plausible theories as to why pain relievers might cause hearing impairment.
When you experience pain, your nerves convey this sensation to the brain. The flow of blood to a particular nerve is obstructed by over-the-counter pain relievers. This disrupts nerve signals that normally communicate with the brain, so you feel less pain.
There may also be a reduction of blood flow to the inner ear according to researchers. This blood provides vital oxygen and nutrients. When the flow is reduced for extended periods of time, cells end up malnourished and die.
Acetaminophen, which showed the most appreciable correlation, might also lessen the production of a specific protein that helps shield the inner ear from loud noises.
Is There Anything That Can be Done?
The most noteworthy insight was that men younger than 50 were more likely to be affected. This verifies that hearing loss doesn’t just impact the elderly. But as you get older, if you take the appropriate steps you will have a better chance of preserving your hearing.
While it’s significant to note that taking these pain relievers can have some adverse consequences, that doesn’t mean you need to completely stop using them. Use pain medication only when you really 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 practical idea to boost the Omega-3 fat in your diet and minimize foods that cause inflammation. These approaches have been shown to naturally reduce pain and inflammation while enhancing blood flow.
Lastly, is an appointment to see us every year to have your hearing tested. Don’t forget, you’re never too young to have your hearing checked. The best time to start talking to us about avoiding further hearing loss is when you under 50.