Geneva Hearing Services - Geneva, IL

Woman taking pain killers and thinking about her hearing.

When you experience pain, you may grab some aspirin or ibuprofen without thinking much about it, but new research has demonstrated risks you should be aware of.

Many popular pain medicines, including those bought over-the-counter, pose risks to your hearing that you’ll want to consider when taking them. Younger men, amazingly, could have a higher risk factor.

Pain Relievers And Hearing Loss – What The Studies Say

A comprehensive, 30-year collaborative study was conducted among researchers from prestigious universities like Harvard, Brigham Young, and Vanderbilt. A bi-yearly survey was sent to 27,000 individuals between the age of 40 and 74 which included health and lifestyle questions.

Researchers were not sure what to expect because the questionnaire was very broad. But the data revealed that over-the-counter pain relievers and loss of hearing had a strong correlation.

The data also showed something even more shocking. Men who are 50 or under who frequently use acetaminophen were almost twice as likely to have loss of hearing. The chance of getting hearing loss is 50/50 for individuals who use aspirin regularly. And those who used NSAIDs (naproxen, ibuprofen) had a 61% chance of developing irreversible hearing loss.

It was also striking that using low doses frequently appeared to be more detrimental to their hearing than using higher doses once in a while.

We can’t be sure that the pain reliever actually was the cause of this hearing loss even though we can see a distinct connection. More studies are required to prove causation. But these discoveries are persuasive enough that we should think about how we’re utilizing pain relievers.

Current Theories About The Connection Between Pain Relievers And Hearing Loss

Experts have several plausible theories as to why pain relievers could cause hearing impairment.

When you experience pain, your nerves convey this sensation to the brain. The flow of blood to a particular nerve is obstructed by over-the-counter pain relievers. This impedes nerve signals that normally communicate with the brain, so you feel a reduced pain level.

There may also be a reduction of blood flow to the inner ear according to scientists. This blood brings vital oxygen and nutrients. When the flow is reduced for prolonged periods of time, cells end up malnourished and die.

Acetaminophen, which showed the most appreciable correlation, may also lessen the production of a particular protein that helps protect the inner ear from loud noises.

Is There Anything That Can be Done?

The most remarkable revelation was that men under 50 were more likely to be affected. This confirms 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 repercussions, that doesn’t mean you need to completely stop using them. Use pain medication only when you really need to and when using prescription medication, only as prescribed.

If you can discover alternative solutions you should consider them as a first possibility. You should also minimize the consumption of inflammation-causing foods and increase Omega-3 fat in your diet. These practices have been shown to naturally lessen inflammation and pain while strengthening blood flow.

Lastly, is an appointment to see us each year to have your hearing checked. Don’t forget, hearing exams are for people of all ages. The best time to start talking to us about preventing additional hearing loss is when you under 50.

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