You may not recognize that there are consequences associated with aspirin, ibuprofen, and other over-the-counter pain relievers according to new research.
Many popular pain relievers, including store-bought brands, carry risks to your hearing that you’ll want to consider when using them. Astonishingly, younger men could be at greater risk.
Pain Killers And Hearing Loss – What The Studies Say
A comprehensive, 30-year collaborative study was carried out involving researchers from prestigious universities such as Harvard, Brigham Young, and Vanderbilt. The researchers asked 27,000 people between the ages of 40 and 74, to complete a biennial questionnaire that included several lifestyle and health questions.
Because the questionnaire was so broad, researchers were uncertain of what they would find. But the data revealed that over-the-counter pain relievers and hearing loss had a strong connection.
They also came to a more surprising conclusion. Men 50 or younger were almost twice as likely to have hearing loss if they regularly used acetaminophen. The chance of developing hearing loss is 50/50 for individuals who take aspirin regularly. And there is a 61% chance that hearing loss will develop in people who use NSAIDs (ibuprofen and naproxen).
It was also striking that consuming low doses regularly appeared to be worse for their hearing than using higher doses once in a while.
It’s relevant to mention this connection, but it doesn’t definitively reveal whether the pain relievers actually caused the hearing loss. Causation can only be established with more study. But we really should rethink our use of these pain relievers after these compelling results.
Present Theories About The Connection Between Pain Relievers And Hearing Loss
There are numerous theories as to why pain relievers may cause hearing loss which researchers have come up with.
Your nerves communicate the experience of pain to your brain. The flow of blood to a particular nerve is blocked by over-the-counter pain relievers. You then feel less pain as the normal pain signals are blocked.
Researchers believe this process also reduces blood flow in the inner ear. Lowered blood flow means less nutrients and oxygen. When the flow is decreased for prolonged periods of time, cells end up malnourished and die.
Also, there’s a specific protein that protects the inner ear from loud noises and it seems like acetaminophen, in particular, might block this.
Is There Anything That Can be Done?
Probably the most significant point to consider is that men under 50 were more likely to suffer hearing impairment from pain relievers. This confirms that hearing loss doesn’t just impact the elderly. The steps you take when you’re younger can help protect your hearing as you age.
While we aren’t implying that you entirely stop using pain relievers, you should acknowledge that there might be negative repercussions. Use pain medication only when you absolutely need to and when using prescription medication, only as prescribed.
Look for other pain relief possibilities, including gentle exercise. You should also reduce the consumption of inflammation-causing foods and increase Omega-3 fat in your diet. These approaches have been shown to naturally reduce pain and inflammation while strengthening blood flow.
Lastly, is an appointment to see us every year to get your hearing checked. Don’t forget, hearing exams are for individuals of all ages. The best time to begin talking to us about preventing additional hearing loss is when you under 50.