Woman taking pain killers and thinking about her hearing.

When you have pain, you might grab some aspirin or ibuprofen without much thought, but new research has shown risks you should recognize.

Many prevalent pain medicines, including store-bought brands, carry risks to your hearing that you’ll want to consider when taking them. Surprisingly, younger men could be at higher risk.

What Studies Say About Hearing Loss And Pain Killers

A comprehensive, 30-year cooperative study was carried out among researchers from esteemed universities like Harvard, Brigham Young, and Vanderbilt. A bi-yearly questionnaire was sent to 27,000 participants between the age of 40 and 74 which included health and lifestyle questions.

Because the survey was so diverse, researchers were uncertain of what they would discover. But the data revealed that over-the-counter pain relievers and loss of hearing had a strong correlation.

They also faced a more shocking realization. Men who are under the age of 50 who routinely use acetaminophen were almost two times as likely to have loss of hearing. The chance of developing hearing loss is 50/50 for people who use aspirin regularly. 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 from time to time were not as bad for your hearing as low doses taken frequently.

It’s significant to note this correlation, but it doesn’t definitively demonstrate whether the pain relievers in fact were the cause of the hearing loss. Causation can only be demonstrated with more study. But these discoveries are compelling enough that we ought to reconsider how we’re utilizing pain relievers.

Present Theories About The Connection Between Hearing Loss And Pain Relievers

Experts have several plausible theories as to why pain relievers might cause hearing damage.

When you have pain, your nerves convey this sensation to the brain. The flow of blood to a particular nerve is obstructed by over-the-counter pain relievers. You then feel less pain as the normal pain signals are impeded.

Scientists believe this process also decreases the flow of blood in the inner ear. 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 guards 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 remarkable revelation was that men younger than 50 were the most likely to be impacted. This is an earnest reminder that hearing impairment 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 using these pain relievers can have some negative consequences, that doesn’t mean you need to entirely stop using them. Use pain medication only when you really need to and when using prescription medication, only as prescribed.

Try to find other pain relief solutions, including gentle exercise. You should also minimize the consumption of inflammation-producing foods and increase Omega-3 fat in your diet. Decreased pain and improved blood flow have been demonstrated to come from these methods.

And finally, make an appointment with us for a hearing examination. Don’t forget, hearing tests are for people of all ages. If you’re under 50, now is the time to start speaking with us about preventing further hearing loss.

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