Research Shows a Connection Between Substance Abuse And Hearing Loss

Young man with hearing loss drinking more alcohol than he should.

You’re probably aware that the US . is in the midst of an opioid crisis. Overdoses are killing more than 130 individuals daily. There is a link, which you may not have heard about, between drug and alcohol abuse and hearing loss.

According to new research published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine and carried out by a group at the University of Michigan, there’s a connection between alcohol and drug abuse and people under fifty who suffer from hearing loss.

After evaluating around 86,000 respondents, they found this connection is stronger the younger the person is. Sadly, it’s still unclear what causes that link in the first place.

Here’s what was found by this study:

  • People were twice as likely to develop a general substance abuse problem than their peers if they got hearing loss between the ages of 35 and 49.
  • When it comes to hearing loss, people older than fifty who developed hearing loss didn’t differ from their peers when it comes to substance abuse.
  • People were at least two times as likely to abuse opioids than their peers if they developed hearing loss when they were under the age of fifty. Other things, like alcohol, were also more likely to be abused by this group.

Solutions and Hope

Those numbers are shocking, particularly because experts have already taken into account concerns such as class and economics. We need to do something about it, though, now that we have recognized a relationship. Well, that can be a problem without knowing the exact cause (remember: causation is not correlation). Researchers had a couple of theories:

  • Lack of communication: Emergency departments are designed to respond to people, treat them, and process them as efficiently (or, in many cases, quickly) as they can. Sometimes they are in a hurry, especially if there’s a life-threatening emergency waiting for them. In situations like this, a patient might not get proper treatment because they can’t hear questions and directions properly. They might not hear dosage information or other medication directions.
  • Higher blood pressure: It’s also true, of course, That blood pressure is raised by alcohol, sometimes to levels that are unhealthy. And both some pain killers and also high blood pressure have been shown to harm your hearing.
  • Ototoxic medications: Hearing loss is known to be caused by these medications.
  • Social solitude: It’s well established that hearing loss can lead to social isolation and cognitive decline. In situations like these, it’s common for people to self medicate, especially if the individual in question doesn’t really understand the cause–he or she may not even realizethat hearing loss is the issue.

Whether these situations increase loss of hearing, or that they are more likely to occur to those with loss of hearing, the negative consequences to your health are the same.

Preventing Hearing Loss and Substance Abuse

It’s recommended by the authors of the study, that communications protocols be kept up to date by doctors and emergency responders. It would help if doctors were on the lookout for people with hearing loss, in other words. We individuals don’t seek help when we need to and that would also be extremely helpful.

The following question should be asked of your doctor:

  • Will I get addicted to this medication? Is there a different medication that is safer for my hearing, or do I really need this one.
  • Will I have an ototoxic response to this medication? What are the alternatives?

Never go home from a doctors appointment with medications unless you are completely clear on their dangers, what the dosage schedule is and how they affect your overall health.

Additionally, if you think you are suffering from hearing loss, don’t wait to get tested. Neglecting your hearing loss for just two years can pay 26% more for your health care. Schedule a hearing exam today.

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.