When you experience pain, you might grab some ibuprofen or aspirin without thinking much about it, but new studies have shown risks you need to be aware of.
You’ll want to look at the risks to your hearing that many over-the-counter and prescription pain medication carry before you decide to use them. Surprisingly, younger men may be at higher risk.
What The Research Says About Hearing Loss And Pain Relievers
A comprehensive, 30-year cooperative study was carried out involving researchers from prestigious universities such as Harvard, Brigham Young, and Vanderbilt. The researchers asked 27,000 people ages 40 to 74, to complete a biennial survey that included numerous 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 solid connection.
The data also showed something even more alarming. Men who are under the age of 50 who frequently use acetaminophen were almost two times as likely to have hearing loss. Those who frequently used aspirin had a 50% chance of suffering from hearing loss. And there is a 61% chance that hearing loss will develop in individuals who use NSAIDs (ibuprofen and naproxen).
It was also striking that consuming low doses regularly appeared to be worse for their hearing than taking higher doses from time to time.
It’s relevant to note this connection, but it doesn’t definitively show whether the pain relievers actually caused the hearing loss. More studies are needed to prove causation. But these findings are persuasive enough that we should rethink how we’re utilizing pain relievers.
Current Theories About The Connection Between Pain Relievers And Hearing Loss
Scientists have several plausible theories as to why pain relievers could cause hearing impairment.
When you experience pain, your nerves communicate this sensation to the brain. Over-the-counter pain relievers work by limiting blood flow to particular nerves. This interrupts nerve signals that normally communicate with the brain, so you feel less pain.
Researchers think this process also reduces the flow of blood in the inner ear. Less blood flow means less oxygen and nutrients. Cells will die from malnourishment if this blood flow is decreased for extended periods.
Acetaminophen, which showed the most substantial connection, may also reduce the generation of a particular protein that helps shield the inner ear from loud noises.
Is There Anything That Can be Done?
The most significant revelation was that men under 50 were the most likely to be affected. This is a solemn reminder that hearing impairment can occur at any age. The steps you take when you’re younger can help preserve your hearing as you age.
While we aren’t suggesting you completely stop taking pain relievers, you should understand that there may be negative consequences. Use pain medication only when you absolutely need to and when dealing with prescription medication, only as prescribed.
Look for other pain relief options, including light exercise. You should also decrease the consumption of inflammation-producing foods and boost Omega-3 fat in your diet. These practices have been shown to naturally decrease pain and inflammation while improving blood flow.
Lastly, is an appointment to see us each year to have your hearing tested. Don’t forget, you’re never too young to have your hearing checked. If you’re younger than 50, now is the time to start talking to us about preventing additional loss of hearing.