When you have pain, you may reach for aspirin or ibuprofen without thinking much about it, but new research has demonstrated risks you need to be aware of.
You’ll want to think about the risks to your hearing that many over-the-counter and prescription pain medication present before you decide to use them. Surprisingly, younger men may be at greater risk.
Pain Killers And Hearing Loss – What The Studies Say
Esteemed universities, such as Vanderbilt, Harvard, and Brigham Young, performed a comprehensive 30 year study. A bi-yearly survey was sent to 27,000 individuals between the age of 40 and 74 which included health and lifestyle questions.
Researchers weren’t certain what to expect because the questionnaire was very broad. After looking at the data, they were surprised to find a solid connection between hearing loss and over-the-counter pain relievers.
The data also revealed something even more surprising. Men who are 50 or under who regularly use acetaminophen were nearly two times as likely to have loss of hearing. The chance of getting hearing loss is 50/50 for people who use aspirin frequently. And there’s a 61% chance that hearing loss will develop in those who use NSAIDs (ibuprofen and naproxen).
It was also striking that using low doses regularly appeared to be worse for their hearing than taking higher doses from time to time.
It’s relevant to mention this correlation, but it doesn’t definitively demonstrate whether the pain relievers actually were the cause of the hearing loss. Causation can only be proven with more study. But we really should rethink our use of these pain relievers after these compelling findings.
Current Theories About The Connection Between Hearing Loss And Pain Relievers
There are several theories as to why pain relievers could result in hearing loss which experts have come up with.
Your nerves communicate the sensation of pain to your brain. Over-the-counter pain relievers work by decreasing blood flow to particular nerves. You then feel reduced pain as the regular pain signals are impeded.
Researchers think this process also reduces blood flow in the inner ear. This blood carries vital nutrients and oxygen. When the flow is reduced for extended time periods, cells become malnourished and die.
Also, there’s a particular protein that protects the inner ear from loud noises and it seems as if acetaminophen, in particular, might block this.
What You Can do?
The most remarkable revelation was that men younger than 50 were more likely to be affected. This verifies that hearing loss doesn’t just impact the elderly. The steps you take when you’re younger can help preserve your hearing as you age.
While it’s important to note that using these pain relievers can have some negative consequences, that doesn’t mean you have to entirely stop using them. Take pain relievers as prescribed and reduce how often you take them if possible.
Look for other pain relief options, including light exercise. It would also be a smart idea to increase the Omega-3 fat in your diet and minimize foods that cause inflammation. Reduced pain and better blood flow have been shown to come from these practices.
Lastly, is an appointment to see us each year to have your hearing examined. Don’t forget, hearing examinations are for individuals of all ages. The best time to start speaking with us about avoiding further hearing loss is when you under 50.