You might not recognize that there are consequences connected to aspirin, ibuprofen, and other over-the-counter pain relievers according to new studies.
You’ll want to consider the risks to your hearing that many over-the-counter and prescription pain medication carry before you decide to use them. Astonishingly, younger men might be at higher risk.
What Studies Say About Hearing Loss And Pain Relievers
A comprehensive, 30-year collaborative study was performed among researchers from prestigious universities including Harvard, Brigham Young, and Vanderbilt. A bi-yearly questionnaire was sent to 27,000 participants between the age of 40 and 74 which included lifestyle and health questions.
Because the questionnaire was so broad, researchers were unsure of what they would discover. After looking at the data, they were surprised to find a solid link between hearing loss and over-the-counter pain relievers.
They also came to a more surprising realization. Men who are 50 or under who regularly use acetaminophen were almost two times as likely to have hearing loss. The chance of developing hearing loss is 50/50 for people who use aspirin frequently. And those who used NSAIDs (naproxen, ibuprofen) had a 61% chance of getting irreversible hearing loss.
Another surprising thing that was revealed was that high doses taken once in a while were not as harmful for your hearing as low doses taken frequently.
It’s important to mention this connection, but it doesn’t definitively reveal whether the pain relievers actually caused the hearing loss. More studies are required to prove causation. But we really need to rethink our use of these pain relievers after these persuasive results.
Pain Relievers And Hearing Loss – Current Theories
There are several theories as to why pain relievers might cause hearing loss.
When you have pain, your nerves convey this feeling to the brain. Blood flow to a specific nerve is blocked by over-the-counter pain relievers. This disrupts 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 scientists. This blood carries vital oxygen and nutrients. Cells will die from malnourishment if this blood flow is decreased for prolonged periods.
Acetaminophen, which showed the most significant correlation, could also reduce the generation of a specific protein that helps shield the inner ear from loud noises.
What You Can do?
The most noteworthy insight was that men under 50 were more likely to be affected. This is a solemn reminder that hearing loss can manifest at any age. But as you get older, if you take the appropriate steps you will have a better chance of protecting your hearing.
While it’s important to note that using these pain relievers can have some adverse consequences, that doesn’t mean you have to entirely stop using them. Use pain medication only when you really need to and when using prescription medication, only as prescribed.
If you can find alternative solutions you should consider them as a first approach. It would also be a practical idea to boost the Omega-3 fat in your diet and minimize foods that cause inflammation. These practices have been shown to naturally lessen pain and inflammation while strengthening blood flow.
Lastly, is an appointment to see us every year to get your hearing tested. Don’t forget, hearing exams are for people of all ages. If you’re younger than 50, now is the time to begin talking to us about preventing additional loss of hearing.