When you’re in pain, you may reach for aspirin or ibuprofen without much thought, but new studies have revealed risks you need to be aware of.
You’ll want to look at the risks to your hearing that many over-the-counter and prescription pain medication present before you decide to use them. Amazingly, younger men may be at higher risk.
Pain Relievers And Hearing Loss – What The Research Says
Prestigious universities, including Vanderbilt, Harvard, and Brigham Young, performed a thorough 30 year study. The researchers asked 27,000 people between the ages of 40 and 74, to complete a biyearly survey that included several health and lifestyle questions.
Researchers weren’t sure what to expect because the survey was very diverse. After reviewing the data, they were surprised to find a solid connection between loss of hearing and over-the-counter pain relievers.
They also came to a more surprising realization. Men younger than 50 were almost twice as likely to have hearing loss if they regularly used acetaminophen. People who frequently used aspirin had a 50% chance of experiencing hearing loss. And there is a 61% chance that hearing loss will develop in people who use NSAIDs (ibuprofen and naproxen).
Another surprising thing that was revealed 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 was the cause of this hearing loss even though we can see a definite correlation. More research is needed to prove causation. But we really should rethink our use of these pain relievers after these compelling results.
Pain Relievers And Hearing Loss – Current Theories
There are numerous theories as to why pain relievers might cause hearing loss which experts have come up with.
When you have pain, your nerves communicate this sensation to the brain. Over-the-counter pain relievers work by decreasing the flow of blood to particular nerves. This interrupts nerve signals that usually communicate with the brain, so you feel a reduced pain level.
There might also be a reduction of blood flow to the inner ear according to researchers. This blood brings vital oxygen and nutrients. Cells will die from malnourishment if this blood flow is decreased for prolonged periods.
Also, there’s a particular protein that protects the inner ear from loud noises and it seems like acetaminophen, in particular, could block this.
Is There Anything That Can be Done?
The most significant insight was that men under 50 were the most likely to be impacted. This is a solemn reminder that hearing loss can happen at any age. The steps you take when you’re younger can help preserve your hearing as you age.
While it’s significant to note that taking these pain relievers can have some unfavorable consequences, that doesn’t mean you have to entirely stop using them. Take pain relievers as prescribed and reduce how often you use them if possible.
Look for other pain relief options, including gentle exercise. It would also be a good idea to increase the Omega-3 fat in your diet and minimize foods that cause inflammation. These practices have been shown to naturally reduce pain and inflammation while enhancing blood flow.
And finally, schedule an appointment with us for a hearing exam. Don’t forget, hearing tests are for individuals of all ages. If you’re younger than 50, now is the time to start talking to us about avoiding further hearing loss.