When you experience pain, you may grab some ibuprofen or aspirin without thinking much about it, but new research has shown risks you need to recognize.
Many common pain relievers, including those bought over-the-counter, pose risks to your hearing that you’ll want to consider when using them. Amazingly, younger men might be at higher risk.
What Studies Say About Hearing Loss And Pain Relievers
Esteemed universities, including Vanderbilt, Harvard, and Brigham Young, carried out a comprehensive 30 year study. The researchers asked 27,000 people between the ages of 40 and 74, to fill out a biyearly survey that included several health and lifestyle questions.
Because the questionnaire was so broad, researchers were uncertain of what they would discover. After analyzing the data, they were surprised to find a solid connection between hearing loss and over-the-counter pain relievers.
They also came to a more shocking conclusion. Men 50 or younger were nearly two times as likely to have hearing loss if they routinely used acetaminophen. The chance of initiating hearing loss is 50/50 for people who use aspirin regularly. And those who used NSAIDs (ibuprofen, naproxen) had a 61% chance of developing lasting hearing loss.
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.
We can’t be certain that the pain reliever actually was the cause of this loss of hearing even though we can see a distinct connection. More studies are required to prove causation. But these discoveries are persuasive enough that we ought to think about how we’re utilizing pain relievers.
Hearing Loss And Pain Relievers – Present Theories
Scientists have several plausible theories as to why pain relievers might cause hearing impairment.
Your nerves communicate the experience of pain to your brain. Over-the-counter pain relievers work by limiting the flow of blood to particular nerves. This impedes nerve signals that usually communicate with the brain, so you feel less pain.
Researchers suspect this process also decreases blood flow in the inner ear. This blood brings vital oxygen and nutrients. Cells will die from undernourishment if this blood flow is decreased for extended periods.
Also, there’s a specific protein that protects the inner ear from loud noises and it seems like acetaminophen, in particular, may block this.
What You Can do?
Perhaps the biggest point to keep in mind is that men under 50 were more likely to suffer hearing impairment from pain relievers. This verifies 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 it’s significant to note that taking these pain relievers can have some negative consequences, that doesn’t mean you have to entirely stop using them. Take pain relievers as prescribed and decrease how often you use them if possible.
Try to find other pain relief options, including gentle exercise. It would also be a practical idea to increase the Omega-3 fat in your diet and minimize foods that cause inflammation. These approaches have been shown to naturally decrease pain and inflammation while strengthening blood flow.
And finally, make an appointment with us for a hearing test. Don’t forget, hearing exams are for individuals of all ages. If you’re younger than 50, now is the time to start talking to us about eliminating additional loss of hearing.