When you experience pain, you may reach for aspirin or ibuprofen without thinking much about it, but new studies have demonstrated risks you need to recognize.
Many common pain medicines, including store-bought brands, pose risks to your hearing that you’ll want to consider when using them. Surprisingly, younger men could be at greater risk.
What Studies Say About Hearing Loss And Pain Relievers
A thorough, 30-year collective study was conducted involving researchers from prestigious universities like Harvard, Brigham Young, and Vanderbilt. A bi-yearly survey was sent to 27,000 people between the age of 40 and 74 which included lifestyle and health questions.
Researchers were not certain what to expect because the questionnaire was very diverse. But the data demonstrated that over-the-counter pain relievers and loss of hearing had a solid correlation.
They also faced a more shocking realization. Men who are under the age of 50 who frequently use acetaminophen were almost twice as likely to have hearing loss. The chance of initiating hearing loss is 50/50 for individuals who use aspirin regularly. And those who used NSAIDs (ibuprofen, naproxen) had a 61% chance of getting permanent hearing loss.
It was also striking that using low doses regularly appeared to be more detrimental to their hearing than taking higher doses occasionally.
It’s significant to note this connection, but it doesn’t definitively demonstrate whether the pain relievers actually were the cause of the hearing loss. Causation can only be established with further study. But these findings are compelling enough that we ought to rethink how we’re utilizing pain relievers.
Pain Relievers And Hearing Loss – Present Theories
There are numerous theories as to why pain relievers may cause hearing loss which scientists have come up with.
When you have pain, your nerves communicate this feeling to the brain. Over-the-counter pain relievers work by decreasing blood flow to specific nerves. This impedes nerve signals that usually communicate with the brain, so you feel a reduced pain level.
There might also be a decrease of blood flow to the inner ear according to researchers. Less blood flow means less nutrients and oxygen. Cells will die from malnourishment if this blood flow is decreased for extended periods.
Acetaminophen, which showed the most significant connection, could also lessen the production of a specific protein that helps protect the inner ear from loud noises.
What You Can do?
The most significant revelation was that men under 50 were the most likely to be affected. 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 preserving your hearing.
While it’s significant to note that taking these pain relievers can have some negative repercussions, that doesn’t mean you need to completely stop using them. Take pain relievers as prescribed and reduce how often you take them if possible.
If you can find alternative solutions you should consider them as a first approach. You should also reduce the consumption of inflammation-causing foods and increase Omega-3 fat in your diet. Decreased pain and improved blood flow have been demonstrated to come from these methods.
And finally, make an appointment with us for a hearing examination. Don’t forget, hearing exams are for people of all ages. If you’re under 50, now is the time to begin speaking with us about eliminating further hearing loss.