When you have pain, you might reach for aspirin or ibuprofen without much thought, but new research has shown risks you should be aware of.
Many popular pain relievers, including store-bought brands, pose risks to your hearing that you’ll want to consider when using them. Amazingly, younger men could be at higher risk.
What Studies Say About Hearing Loss And Pain Killers
A thorough, 30-year collaborative study was carried out among researchers from esteemed universities like Harvard, Brigham Young, and Vanderbilt. A bi-yearly survey was sent to 27,000 participants between the age of 40 and 74 which included lifestyle and health questions.
Researchers were not sure what to expect because the questionnaire was very diverse. After analyzing the data, they were surprised to find a strong link between loss of hearing and over-the-counter pain relievers.
The data also revealed something even more alarming. Men younger than 50 were nearly twice as likely to have hearing loss if they routinely used acetaminophen. The chance of getting hearing loss is 50/50 for individuals who take aspirin frequently. And there is a 61% chance that hearing loss will develop in people who use NSAIDs (ibuprofen and naproxen).
Another unexpected thing that was discovered was that high doses used from time to time were not as harmful for your hearing as low doses taken regularly.
It’s significant to note this connection, but it doesn’t definitively reveal whether the pain relievers in fact were the cause of the hearing loss. Causation can only be established with further study. But these discoveries are compelling enough that we ought to reconsider how we’re utilizing pain relievers.
Current Theories About The Connection Between Pain Relievers And Hearing Loss
Experts have numerous conceivable theories as to why pain relievers could cause hearing impairment.
When you experience pain, your nerves convey 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.
Scientists believe this process also decreases the flow of blood in the inner ear. Less blood flow means less oxygen and nutrients. When the flow is reduced for extended periods of time, cells become malnourished and die.
Acetaminophen, which showed the most appreciable connection, may also decrease the generation of a particular protein that helps shield the inner ear from loud noises.
Is There Anything That Can be Done?
Probably the biggest point to consider is that men under 50 were more likely to suffer hearing impairment from pain relievers. This confirms that hearing loss doesn’t just impact the elderly. But as you age, if you take the appropriate steps you will have a better chance of maintaining your hearing.
While we aren’t suggesting you completely stop using pain relievers, you should understand that there might be negative consequences. Take pain relievers as prescribed and decrease how often you take them if possible.
If you can discover alternative solutions you should consider them as a first possibility. You should also reduce the consumption of inflammation-producing foods and boost Omega-3 fat in your diet. Reduced pain and enhanced blood flow have been demonstrated to come from these methods.
Lastly, is an appointment to see us each year to get your hearing checked. Remember, you’re never too young to have your hearing tested. The best time to start speaking with us about avoiding additional hearing loss is when you under 50.