When you have pain, you may reach for ibuprofen or aspirin without thinking much about it, but new research has shown risks you should be aware of.
Many popular pain relievers, including those bought over-the-counter, carry risks to your hearing that you’ll want to weigh when considering using them. Younger men, amazingly, could have a higher risk factor.
Pain Killers And Hearing Loss – What The Studies Say
A thorough, 30-year collective study was conducted among researchers from prestigious universities such as Harvard, Brigham Young, and Vanderbilt. A bi-yearly survey was sent to 27,000 people between the age of 40 and 74 which included health and lifestyle questions.
Researchers were not certain what to expect because the questionnaire was very broad. But the data demonstrated that over-the-counter pain relievers and loss of hearing had a strong connection.
They also came to a more startling realization. Men younger than 50 were almost two times as likely to have hearing loss if they frequently used acetaminophen. The chance of developing hearing loss is 50/50 for individuals who use aspirin frequently. And those who used NSAIDs (naproxen, ibuprofen) had a 61% chance of developing irreversible hearing loss.
It was also striking that taking low doses frequently seemed to be more detrimental to their hearing than taking higher doses occasionally.
We can’t be certain that the pain reliever actually caused this hearing loss even though we can see a definite correlation. Causation can only be proven with additional study. But these results are compelling enough that we should rethink how we’re using pain relievers.
Current Theories About The Connection Between Hearing Loss And Pain Relievers
Researchers have numerous conceivable theories as to why pain relievers may cause hearing impairment.
When you experience pain, your nerves communicate this sensation to the brain. The flow of blood to a specific nerve is obstructed by over-the-counter pain relievers. This disrupts nerve signals that usually communicate with the brain, so you feel a reduced pain level.
There may also be a reduction of blood flow to the inner ear according to scientists. This blood brings vital nutrients and oxygen. When the flow is reduced for extended time periods, cells become malnourished and die.
Acetaminophen, which showed the most substantial correlation, might also lessen 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 loss from pain relievers. This verifies that hearing loss doesn’t just impact the elderly. But as you get older, if you take the proper steps you will have a better chance of protecting your hearing.
While it’s significant to note that using these pain relievers can have some unfavorable consequences, that doesn’t mean you need to completely stop using them. Take pain relievers as prescribed and lessen how often you take them if possible.
If you can find alternative solutions you should consider them as a first possibility. You should also decrease the consumption of inflammation-causing foods and increase Omega-3 fat in your diet. These practices have been shown to naturally lessen pain and inflammation while enhancing blood flow.
Lastly, is an appointment to see us every year to get your hearing tested. Don’t forget, hearing tests are for people of all ages. If you’re younger than 50, now is the time to start talking to us about avoiding further loss of hearing.