Illini Hearing - Champaign and Mahomet, IL

Woman taking pain killers and thinking about her hearing.

You might not be aware that there are consequences connected to ibuprofen, aspirin, and other over-the-counter pain relievers according to new research.

You’ll want to look at the risks to your hearing that many over-the-counter and prescription pain medication pose before you decide to use them. Astonishingly, younger men could be at greater risk.

Pain Killers And Hearing Loss – What The Studies Say

Esteemed universities, like Vanderbilt, Harvard, and Brigham Young, performed a comprehensive 30 year study. A bi-yearly survey was sent to 27,000 participants between the age of 40 and 74 which included lifestyle and health questions.

Because the survey was so broad, researchers were uncertain of what they would discover. But the data revealed that over-the-counter pain relievers and hearing loss had a solid correlation.

They also faced a more shocking realization. Men 50 or younger were almost two times as likely to have hearing loss if they routinely used acetaminophen. Those who regularly used aspirin had a 50% chance of suffering from hearing loss. And there’s a 61% chance that hearing loss will develop in individuals who use NSAIDs (ibuprofen and naproxen).

Another surprising thing that was discovered was that high doses used from time to time were not as harmful for your hearing as low doses taken frequently.

We can’t be sure that the pain reliever actually caused this hearing loss even though we can see a distinct connection. Causation can only be established with additional study. But these results are persuasive enough that we ought to rethink how we’re using pain relievers.

Present Theories About The Connection Between Hearing Loss And Pain Relievers

Researchers have numerous plausible theories as to why pain relievers might cause hearing damage.

When you experience pain, your nerves communicate this feeling to the brain. Blood flow to a particular nerve is obstructed by over-the-counter pain relievers. You then feel decreased pain as the regular pain signals are blocked.

There might also be a decrease of blood flow to the inner ear according to scientists. Lowered blood flow means less oxygen and nutrients. When the flow is decreased for extended time periods, cells become malnourished and die.

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

What You Can do?

Perhaps the biggest point to consider is that men under 50 were more likely to suffer hearing loss from pain relievers. This verifies that hearing loss doesn’t just impact the elderly. The steps you take when you’re younger can help protect your hearing as you age.

While it’s significant to note that taking these pain relievers can have some adverse consequences, that doesn’t mean you need to entirely stop using them. Use pain medication only when you absolutely 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 increase the Omega-3 fat in your diet and reduce foods that cause inflammation. Decreased pain and better blood flow have been shown to come from these practices.

Lastly, is an appointment to see us every year to get your hearing checked. Remember, you’re never too young to have your hearing checked. The best time to start talking to us about avoiding additional hearing loss is when you under 50.

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