When you’re in pain, you might reach for aspirin or ibuprofen without much thought, but new studies have revealed risks you need to 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 taking them. Younger men, amazingly, could carry a higher risk factor.
Pain Killers And Hearing Loss – What The Studies Say
Prestigious universities, like Vanderbilt, Harvard, and Brigham Young, conducted a comprehensive 30 year study. The researchers asked 27,000 individuals between the ages of 40 and 74, to fill out a biyearly questionnaire that included numerous health and lifestyle questions.
Because the survey was so diverse, researchers were uncertain of what they would find. After evaluating the data, they were surprised to find a strong link between hearing loss and over-the-counter pain relievers.
The data also revealed something even more shocking. Men younger than 50 were approximately two times as likely to have hearing loss if they frequently used acetaminophen. The chance of getting hearing loss is 50/50 for people who take aspirin regularly. And there’s a 61% chance that hearing loss will develop in people who use NSAIDs (ibuprofen and naproxen).
It was also striking that consuming low doses frequently appeared to be worse for their hearing than using higher doses occasionally.
We can’t be certain that the pain reliever actually was the cause of this hearing loss even though we can see a distinct correlation. More studies are needed to prove causation. But we really should reconsider our use of these pain relievers after these persuasive findings.
Present Theories About The Connection Between Pain Relievers And Hearing Loss
Scientists have numerous possible theories as to why pain relievers could cause hearing impairment.
Your nerves communicate the sensation of pain to your brain. Over-the-counter pain relievers work by reducing blood flow to particular nerves. This impedes nerve signals that usually communicate with the brain, so you feel less pain.
Scientists think this process also decreases blood flow in the inner ear. This blood provides vital nutrients and oxygen. Cells will die from undernourishment if this blood flow is decreased for prolonged periods.
Also, there’s a particular protein that guards the inner ear from loud noises and it seems as if acetaminophen, in particular, may block this.
Is There Anything That Can be Done?
Probably the biggest point to consider is that men under 50 were more likely to suffer hearing loss from pain relievers. This verifies that hearing loss doesn’t just affect the elderly. But as you age, if you take the right steps you will have a better chance of preserving your hearing.
While we aren’t suggesting you completely stop using pain relievers, you should understand that there could be unfavorable consequences. Use pain medication only when you absolutely need to and when using prescription medication, only as prescribed.
If you can find alternative solutions you should consider them as a first approach. 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 lessen inflammation and pain while strengthening blood flow.
Lastly, is an appointment to see us each year to get your hearing tested. Keep in mind, you’re never too young to get your hearing tested. If you’re under 50, now is the time to start talking to us about avoiding additional hearing loss.