Hearing Loss And Over-The-Counter Pain Medications

Woman taking pain killers and thinking about her hearing.

You might not recognize that there are consequences connected to ibuprofen, aspirin, and other over-the-counter pain relievers according to new studies.

You’ll want to look at the risks to your hearing that many over-the-counter and prescription pain medication carry before you decide to use them. Astonishingly, younger men might be at greater risk.

Pain Relievers And Hearing Loss – What The Research Says

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

Because the questionnaire was so diverse, researchers were unsure of what they would find. But the data demonstrated that over-the-counter pain relievers and hearing loss had a solid connection.

They also faced a more surprising conclusion. Men younger than 50 were almost two times as likely to have hearing loss if they routinely used acetaminophen. The chance of developing hearing loss is 50/50 for people who take aspirin frequently. And there is a 61% chance that hearing loss will develop in individuals who use NSAIDs (ibuprofen and naproxen).

It was also striking that using low doses frequently appeared to be more detrimental to their hearing than taking higher doses from time to time.

We can’t be sure that the pain reliever actually caused this hearing loss even though we can see a definite correlation. More studies are required to prove causation. But these results are persuasive enough that we ought to rethink how we’re using pain relievers.

Pain Relievers And Hearing Loss – Current Theories

Researchers have numerous possible theories as to why pain relievers could cause hearing impairment.

Your nerves communicate the experience of pain to your brain. The flow of blood to a specific nerve is blocked by over-the-counter pain relievers. This interrupts nerve signals that usually communicate with the brain, so you feel less pain.

Researchers suspect this process also decreases the flow of blood in the inner ear. Less blood flow means less oxygen and nutrients. When the flow is reduced for prolonged time periods, cells end up malnourished and die.

Acetaminophen, which showed the most appreciable correlation, may also decrease the generation of a specific protein that helps shield the inner ear from loud noises.

Is There Anything That Can be Done?

The most significant insight was that men under 50 were more likely to be affected. This verifies that hearing loss doesn’t just affect the elderly. The steps you take when you’re younger can help protect your hearing as you age.

While we aren’t advising you entirely stop taking pain relievers, you should acknowledge that there might be unfavorable repercussions. Use pain medication only when you absolutely need to and when using prescription medication, only as prescribed.

Look for other pain relief solutions, including light exercise. It would also be a good idea to increase the Omega-3 fat in your diet and minimize foods that cause inflammation. Decreased pain and enhanced blood flow have been demonstrated to come from these practices.

And finally, schedule an appointment with us for a hearing test. Don’t forget, hearing exams are for people of all ages. The best time to start speaking with us about preventing 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.