Over-The-Counter Pain Relievers And Hearing Loss

Woman taking pain killers and thinking about her hearing.

When you experience pain, you might reach for aspirin or ibuprofen without thinking much about it, but new research has demonstrated risks you should recognize.

Many prevalent pain medicines, including store-bought brands, pose risks to your hearing that you’ll want to consider when using them. Younger men, surprisingly, could carry a higher risk factor.

What Studies Say About Hearing Loss And Pain Relievers

Prestigious universities, including Vanderbilt, Harvard, and Brigham Young, conducted a comprehensive 30 year study. The researchers asked 27,000 individuals between the ages of 40 and 74, to fill out a biyearly survey that included numerous lifestyle and health questions.

Researchers were not sure what to expect because the questionnaire was very extensive. After reviewing the data, they were surprised to find a solid link between hearing loss and over-the-counter pain relievers.

They also came to a more startling conclusion. Men who are 50 or under who frequently use acetaminophen were almost two times as likely to have hearing loss. Those who regularly used aspirin had a 50% chance of suffering from hearing loss. And those who used NSAIDs (naproxen, ibuprofen) had a 61% chance of getting irreversible hearing loss.

It was also striking that using low doses frequently seemed to be more detrimental to their hearing than taking higher doses once in a while.

We can’t be certain that the pain reliever actually caused this hearing loss even though we can see a definite connection. More studies are needed to prove causation. But we really need to rethink our use of these pain relievers after these persuasive results.

Present Theories About The Connection Between Pain Relievers And Hearing Loss

There are numerous theories as to why pain relievers could result in hearing loss which researchers have come up with.

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

There might also be a decrease of blood flow to the inner ear according to researchers. This blood provides vital oxygen and nutrients. When the flow is decreased for prolonged time periods, cells become malnourished and die.

Acetaminophen, which showed the most substantial connection, could also decrease the production of a specific protein that helps protect the inner ear from loud noises.

What You Can do?

The most significant revelation was that men under 50 were the most likely to be affected. This confirms that hearing loss doesn’t just impact the elderly. But as you get older, if you take the proper steps you will have a better chance of protecting your hearing.

While we aren’t advising you entirely stop using pain relievers, you should recognize that there could be negative effects. Take pain relievers as prescribed and minimize how often you take them if possible.

If you can discover alternative solutions you should consider them as a first possibility. It would also be a good idea to increase the Omega-3 fat in your diet and reduce foods that cause inflammation. Decreased pain and enhanced blood flow have been demonstrated to come from these practices.

Lastly, is an appointment to see us every year to have your hearing examined. Don’t forget, hearing tests are for people of all ages. The best time to start speaking with us about avoiding additional 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.