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 ibuprofen or aspirin without much thought, but new research has demonstrated risks you should recognize.

Many common pain relievers, 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.

Pain Relievers And Hearing Loss – What The Research Says

Prestigious universities, including Vanderbilt, Harvard, and Brigham Young, performed a thorough 30 year study. A bi-yearly questionnaire was sent to 27,000 participants between the age of 40 and 74 which included lifestyle and health questions.

Because the survey was so broad, researchers were uncertain of what they would discover. But the data demonstrated that over-the-counter pain relievers and loss of hearing had a solid link.

They also faced a more surprising realization. Men who are 50 or under who regularly use acetaminophen were almost two times as likely to have hearing loss. The chance of getting hearing loss is 50/50 for people who take aspirin frequently. And those who used NSAIDs (naproxen, ibuprofen) had a 61% chance of developing lasting hearing loss.

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

We can’t be certain 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 persuasive results.

Pain Relievers And Hearing Loss – Current Theories

Experts have several conceivable theories as to why pain relievers may cause hearing impairment.

Your nerves convey the feeling of pain to your brain. Blood flow to a specific nerve is obstructed by over-the-counter pain relievers. You then feel reduced pain as the normal pain signals are impeded.

There may also be a reduction of blood flow to the inner ear according to scientists. Lowered blood flow means less nutrients and oxygen. Cells will die from undernourishment if this blood flow is decreased for extended periods.

Also, there’s a specific protein that guards the inner ear from loud noises and it seems like acetaminophen, in particular, might block this.

Is There Anything That Can be Done?

The most noteworthy revelation was that men under 50 were more likely to be affected. This is a solemn reminder that hearing loss can manifest at any age. 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 understand that there could be unfavorable repercussions. Take pain relievers as prescribed and lessen how often you take them if possible.

If you can discover alternative solutions you should consider them as a first approach. You should also reduce the consumption of inflammation-producing foods and increase Omega-3 fat in your diet. Decreased pain and enhanced blood flow have been shown to come from these practices.

And finally, schedule an appointment with us for a hearing examination. Don’t forget, hearing tests are for individuals of all ages. If you’re under 50, now is the time to begin talking to us about eliminating further hearing loss.

The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. Schedule an appointment to see if hearing aids could benefit you.