Lake Murray Hearing - Columbia and Lexington, SC

Woman taking pain killers and thinking about her hearing.

You may not be aware that there are consequences linked to ibuprofen, aspirin, 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 pose before you choose to use them. Surprisingly, younger men could be at greater risk.

What Studies Say About Hearing Loss And Pain Killers

A comprehensive, 30-year collaborative study was carried out among researchers from esteemed universities like Harvard, Brigham Young, and Vanderbilt. The researchers asked 27,000 individuals between the ages of 40 and 74, to fill out a biyearly questionnaire that included numerous health and lifestyle questions.

Because the survey was so diverse, researchers were unsure of what they would discover. After reviewing the data, they were surprised to find a solid connection between loss of hearing and over-the-counter pain relievers.

They also faced a more surprising conclusion. Men younger than 50 were almost two times as likely to have hearing loss if they frequently used acetaminophen. People 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 unexpected thing that was discovered was that high doses taken occasionally were not as harmful for your hearing as low doses taken frequently.

We can’t be sure that the pain reliever actually caused this loss of hearing even though we can see a definite connection. More studies are needed to prove causation. But these findings are persuasive enough that we ought to reconsider how we’re using pain relievers.

Pain Relievers And Hearing Loss – Present Theories

There are several theories as to why pain relievers might cause hearing loss which researchers have come up with.

When you experience pain, your nerves convey this sensation to the brain. Over-the-counter pain relievers work by reducing blood flow to specific nerves. This interrupts nerve signals that usually communicate with the brain, so you feel less pain.

Researchers think this process also reduces the flow of blood in the inner ear. Lowered blood flow means less oxygen and nutrients. When the flow is reduced for prolonged time periods, cells end up malnourished and die.

Acetaminophen, which showed the most substantial link, could also lessen the production of a particular protein that helps protect the inner ear from loud noises.

What You Can do?

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

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

If you can find alternative solutions you should consider them as a first approach. It would also be a good idea to boost the Omega-3 fat in your diet and decrease foods that cause inflammation. These practices have been shown to naturally reduce inflammation and pain while strengthening blood flow.

And finally, make an appointment with us for a hearing examination. Remember, you’re never too young to get your hearing tested. If you’re under 50, now is the time to begin talking to us about avoiding additional hearing loss.

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