Hearing Health Blog

Woman taking pain killers and thinking about her hearing.

When you have pain, you may reach for ibuprofen or aspirin without thinking much about it, but new studies have revealed risks you should recognize.

Many popular pain relievers, including store-bought brands, carry risks to your hearing that you’ll want to weigh when considering taking them. Younger men, amazingly, could have a higher risk factor.

Pain Killers And Hearing Loss – What The Research Says

A comprehensive, 30-year collective study was carried out among researchers from prestigious universities including Harvard, Brigham Young, and Vanderbilt. The researchers asked 27,000 people ages 40 to 74, to fill out a biennial survey that included numerous lifestyle and health questions.

Researchers were not sure what to expect because the questionnaire was very diverse. After evaluating the data, they were surprised to find a strong link between hearing loss and over-the-counter pain relievers.

They also faced a more surprising realization. Men 50 or younger were nearly twice as likely to have hearing loss if they routinely used acetaminophen. People who regularly used aspirin had a 50% chance of experiencing hearing loss. And there’s a 61% chance that hearing loss will develop in those who use NSAIDs (ibuprofen and naproxen).

Another unexpected thing that was discovered was that high doses used once in a while were not as bad for your hearing as low doses taken regularly.

We can’t be certain that the pain reliever actually caused this hearing loss even though we can see a definite correlation. More research is required to prove causation. But these results are persuasive enough that we should think about how we’re utilizing pain relievers.

Present Theories About The Connection Between Hearing Loss And Pain Relievers

There are several theories as to why pain relievers might result in hearing loss which researchers have come up with.

When you experience pain, your nerves convey this sensation to the brain. Over-the-counter pain relievers work by decreasing blood flow to particular nerves. You then feel decreased pain as the regular pain signals are impeded.

There may also be a reduction of blood flow to the inner ear according to scientists. This blood brings vital nutrients and oxygen. Cells will die from malnourishment if this blood flow is decreased for extended periods.

Also, there’s a particular protein that protects the inner ear from loud noises and it seems like acetaminophen, in particular, could block this.

What You Can do?

The most significant insight was that men under 50 were the most likely to be impacted. This is an earnest reminder that hearing impairment can manifest at any age. The steps you take when you’re younger can help protect your hearing as you age.

While we aren’t suggesting you entirely stop taking pain relievers, you should understand that there might be negative repercussions. Take pain relievers as prescribed and decrease how often you use them if possible.

If you can discover alternative solutions you should consider them as a first option. It would also be a practical idea to boost the Omega-3 fat in your diet and reduce foods that cause inflammation. Reduced pain and improved blood flow have been shown to come from these methods.

And finally, schedule an appointment with us for a hearing test. Don’t forget, hearing examinations are for individuals of all ages. The best time to begin speaking with us about preventing additional hearing loss is when you under 50.

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