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Young man with hearing loss drinking more alcohol than he should.

The US. is facing an opioid crisis as you’re probably aware. Overdoses are killing more than 130 people each day. There is a connection, which you might not be aware of, between drug and alcohol abuse and hearing loss.

According to new research published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine and carried out by a team at the University of Michigan, there’s a link between those under fifty who are suffering from hearing loss and abuse of alcohol or other substances.

Around 86,000 people took part in the study and it was discovered that the younger the person, the stronger the connection. Regrettably, it’s still unclear what causes that link in the first place.

Here’s what was found by this research:

  • Individuals who developed hearing loss when they were the ages of 35 and 49 were two times as likely to develop general substance abuse issues than their peers.
  • People who developed hearing loss under the age of fifty were at least twice as likely to misuse opioids as their peers. They were also usually more likely to abuse other things, such as alcohol.
  • When it comes to hearing loss, people older than fifty who developed hearing loss didn’t differ from their peers in terms of substance abuse.

Solutions and Hope

Those figures are shocking, especially because experts have already accounted for concerns like class and economics. So, now that we’ve identified a relationship, we have to do something about it, right? Keep in mind, causation is not correlation so without understanding the exact cause, it will be hard to directly address the problem. A couple of theories have been put forward by scientists:

  • Social isolation: Cognitive decline and social isolation are well known to be associated with hearing loss. In situations like these, self-medication can be relatively common, especially if the individual in question doesn’t really understand the cause–he or she may not even realizethat hearing loss is the issue.
  • Ototoxic medications: Hearing loss is known to be caused by these medications.
  • Lack of communication: Emergency departments are designed to get people in, treat them, and get them out as efficiently (or, in many cases, quickly) as they can. And if there is a life threatening emergency they can be in even more of a hurry than usual. In these cases, if patients aren’t capable of communicating very well, say they can’t hear questions or instructions from the staff, they might not get proper treatment. They might not hear dosage advise or other medication directions.
  • Higher blood pressure: It’s also true, of course, That blood pressure is raised by alcohol, sometimes to levels that are unhealthy. And both some pain killers and also high blood pressure have been shown to harm your hearing.

Whether loss of hearing is made worse by these situations, or those with loss of hearing are more likely to have them, the damaging consequences are the same to your health.

Preventing Hearing Loss and Substance Abuse

It’s recommended by the authors of the study, that communications protocols be kept current by doctors and emergency responders. Put another way, it would help if doctors were on the lookout for the indications of hearing loss in younger people. We individuals don’t get help when we need to and that would also be very helpful.

The following question should be asked of your doctor:

  • Will I become addicted to this drug? Is there an alternative medicine that is safer for my hearing, or do I truly need this one.
  • Will I have an ototoxic reaction to this drug? What are the alternatives?

Never go home from a doctors appointment with medicines unless you are completely clear on their dangers, what the dosage schedule is and how they influence your general health.

Additionally, don’t wait to get tested if think that you might already be suffering from hearing loss. If you ignore your hearing loss for only two years you will increase your health care costs by 26%. Schedule a hearing test right away.

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