When you experience pain, you might reach for aspirin or ibuprofen without thinking much about it, but new studies have shown risks you should recognize.
You’ll want to consider the risks to your hearing that many over-the-counter and prescription pain medication pose before you decide to use them. Astonishingly, younger men might be at greater risk.
What Studies Say About Hearing Loss And Pain Killers
Prestigious universities, such as Vanderbilt, Harvard, and Brigham Young, performed a thorough 30 year study. A bi-yearly survey was sent to 27,000 participants between the age of 40 and 74 which included lifestyle and health questions.
Researchers weren’t certain what to expect because the questionnaire was very broad. But the data demonstrated that over-the-counter pain relievers and hearing loss had a solid correlation.
They also came to a more shocking conclusion. Men 50 or younger were nearly 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 take aspirin frequently. And those who used NSAIDs (naproxen, ibuprofen) had a 61% chance of developing permanent hearing loss.
Another surprising thing that was revealed was that high doses taken from time to time were not as harmful for your hearing as low doses taken regularly.
It’s important to mention this connection, but it doesn’t definitively reveal whether the pain relievers in fact caused the hearing loss. More research is needed to prove causation. But these discoveries are compelling enough that we should think about how we’re using pain relievers.
Pain Relievers And Hearing Loss – Current Theories
Experts have several plausible theories as to why pain relievers might cause hearing impairment.
Your nerves convey the experience of pain to your brain. The flow of blood to a specific nerve is obstructed by over-the-counter pain relievers. You then feel less pain as the regular pain signals are impeded.
Scientists suspect this process also reduces blood flow in the inner ear. This blood carries vital nutrients and oxygen. When the flow is decreased for prolonged periods of time, cells end up malnourished and die.
Acetaminophen, which showed the most appreciable link, might also decrease the production of a particular protein that helps protect the inner ear from loud noises.
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 impairment from pain relievers. This verifies that hearing loss doesn’t just impact the elderly. But as you age, if you take the appropriate steps you will have a better chance of preserving your hearing.
While we aren’t suggesting you completely stop using pain relievers, you should acknowledge that there may be unfavorable effects. Take pain relievers as prescribed and decrease how often you take them if possible.
If you can discover alternative solutions you should consider them as a first approach. It would also be a practical idea to boost the Omega-3 fat in your diet and reduce foods that cause inflammation. These methods have been shown to naturally reduce inflammation and pain while improving blood flow.
And finally, make an appointment with us for a hearing test. Keep in mind, you’re never too young to get your hearing checked. If you’re under 50, now is the time to start speaking with us about avoiding further loss of hearing.