Hearing Loss And Over-The-Counter Pain Medications

Woman taking pain killers and thinking about her hearing.

When you have pain, you might grab some ibuprofen or aspirin without much thought, but new studies have revealed risks you should be aware of.

Many prevalent pain medicines, 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.

What Studies Say About Hearing Loss And Pain Killers

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

Researchers weren’t 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 link.

The data also showed something even more alarming. Men who are under the age of 50 who routinely use acetaminophen were nearly twice as likely to have hearing loss. The chance of initiating hearing loss is 50/50 for people who take aspirin regularly. And there’s a 61% chance that hearing loss will develop in those who use NSAIDs (ibuprofen and naproxen).

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

We can’t be certain that the pain reliever actually caused this loss of hearing even though we can see a distinct correlation. More studies are required to prove causation. But these results are compelling enough that we should think about how we’re using pain relievers.

Present Theories About The Connection Between Hearing Loss And Pain Relievers

Scientists have numerous possible theories as to why pain relievers may cause hearing damage.

Your nerves communicate the feeling of pain to your brain. Over-the-counter pain relievers work by decreasing blood flow to specific nerves. You then feel decreased pain as the regular pain signals are impeded.

There might also be a decrease of blood flow to the inner ear according to researchers. This blood brings vital oxygen and nutrients. Cells will die from undernourishment if this blood flow is reduced for prolonged periods.

Acetaminophen, which showed the most substantial connection, may also decrease the generation of a specific protein that helps shield the inner ear from loud noises.

Is There Anything That Can be Done?

The most remarkable insight was that men younger than 50 were the most likely to be impacted. This is a solemn reminder that hearing loss can occur at any age. But as you age, if you take the right steps you will have a better chance of preserving your hearing.

While it’s important to note that using these pain relievers can have some negative consequences, that doesn’t mean you need to completely stop using them. Use pain medication only when you absolutely need to and when dealing with prescription medication, only as prescribed.

If you can find alternative solutions you should consider them as a first option. You should also decrease the consumption of inflammation-producing foods and boost Omega-3 fat in your diet. Decreased pain and better blood flow have been demonstrated to come from these practices.

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

Questions? Talk To Us.