Hearing Loss And Over-The-Counter Pain Relievers

Woman taking pain killers and thinking about her hearing.

When you’re in pain, you may reach for ibuprofen or aspirin without thinking much about it, but new research has demonstrated risks you need to be aware of.

Many popular pain medicines, including those bought over-the-counter, carry risks to your hearing that you’ll want to consider when taking them. Astonishingly, younger men could be at higher risk.

Pain Killers And Hearing Loss – What The Studies Say

A thorough, 30-year collaborative study was performed among researchers from prestigious universities like Harvard, Brigham Young, and Vanderbilt. The researchers asked 27,000 people ages 40 to 74, to fill out a biennial questionnaire that included numerous health and lifestyle questions.

Researchers weren’t certain what to expect because the survey was very broad. After evaluating the data, they were surprised to find a solid link between hearing loss and over-the-counter pain relievers.

They also faced a more startling realization. Men 50 or younger were approximately twice as likely to have hearing loss if they frequently used acetaminophen. The chance of developing hearing loss is 50/50 for people who take aspirin regularly. And there is a 61% chance that hearing loss will develop in people who use NSAIDs (ibuprofen and naproxen).

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

We can’t be sure that the pain reliever actually was the cause of this loss of hearing even though we can see a distinct connection. More research is needed to prove causation. But we really should rethink our use of these pain relievers after these compelling findings.

Present Theories About The Connection Between Hearing Loss And Pain Relievers

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

Your nerves communicate the feeling of pain to your brain. Over-the-counter pain relievers work by decreasing the flow of blood to particular nerves. This interrupts nerve signals that normally communicate with the brain, so you feel less pain.

There may 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 extended periods.

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

What You Can do?

Perhaps the biggest point to consider is that men under 50 were more likely to suffer hearing loss from pain relievers. This verifies that hearing loss doesn’t just impact the elderly. The steps you take when you’re younger can help safeguard your hearing as you age.

While it’s important to note that taking these pain relievers can have some unfavorable consequences, that doesn’t mean you need to completely stop using them. Take pain relievers as prescribed and lessen how often you take them if possible.

If you can find alternative solutions you should consider them as a first option. You should also minimize the consumption of inflammation-causing foods and increase Omega-3 fat in your diet. Reduced pain and improved blood flow have been demonstrated to come from these methods.

And finally, make an appointment with us for a hearing test. Don’t forget, you’re never too young to get your hearing tested. The best time to begin talking to us about preventing further hearing loss is when you under 50.

The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.