When you experience pain, you might grab some ibuprofen or aspirin without much thought, but new research has demonstrated risks you need to recognize.
Many common pain relievers, including store-bought brands, pose risks to your hearing that you’ll want to consider when using them. Younger men, surprisingly, could have a higher risk factor.
Pain Relievers And Hearing Loss – What The Research Says
Prestigious universities, such as Vanderbilt, Harvard, and Brigham Young, performed a thorough 30 year study. A bi-yearly questionnaire was sent to 27,000 individuals between the age of 40 and 74 which included lifestyle and health questions.
Because the questionnaire was so diverse, researchers were unsure of what they would find. After looking at the data, they were surprised to find a strong link between loss of hearing and over-the-counter pain relievers.
The data also showed something even more shocking. Men 50 or younger were almost two times as likely to have hearing loss if they regularly used acetaminophen. The chance of developing hearing loss is 50/50 for individuals who use aspirin frequently. And those who used NSAIDs (ibuprofen, naproxen) had a 61% chance of getting irreversible hearing loss.
Another surprising thing that was revealed was that high doses used from time to time were not as harmful for your hearing as low doses taken frequently.
It’s important to note this connection, but it doesn’t definitively show whether the pain relievers actually were the cause of the hearing loss. More research is required to prove causation. But we really need to reconsider our use of these pain relievers after these compelling findings.
Pain Relievers And Hearing Loss – Current Theories
Scientists have numerous plausible theories as to why pain relievers may cause hearing impairment.
When you have pain, your nerves communicate this feeling to the brain. Over-the-counter pain relievers work by limiting the flow of blood to specific nerves. This disrupts nerve signals that usually communicate with the brain, so you feel less pain.
Scientists suspect this process also reduces the flow of blood in the inner ear. This blood carries vital nutrients and oxygen. Cells will die from undernourishment if this blood flow is decreased for extended periods.
Acetaminophen, which showed the most substantial connection, might also lessen the generation of a particular protein that helps shield the inner ear from loud noises.
Is There Anything That Can be Done?
Probably the biggest point to keep in mind is that men under 50 were more likely to suffer hearing loss from pain relievers. This confirms that hearing loss doesn’t just impact the elderly. But as you age, if you take the proper steps you will have a better chance of protecting your hearing.
While it’s important to note that taking these pain relievers can have some unfavorable repercussions, that doesn’t mean you have to completely stop using them. Use pain medication only when you absolutely need to and when dealing with prescription medication, only as prescribed.
Seek out other pain relief solutions, including gentle exercise. You should also decrease the consumption of inflammation-producing foods and boost Omega-3 fat in your diet. These approaches have been shown to naturally reduce inflammation and pain while improving blood flow.
Lastly, is an appointment to see us every year to get your hearing examined. Keep in mind, you’re never too young to get your hearing checked. The best time to start talking to us about preventing further hearing loss is when you under 50.