Woman taking pain killers and thinking about her hearing.

When you’re in pain, you may reach for aspirin or ibuprofen without much thought, but new studies have demonstrated risks you need to recognize.

Many common pain relievers, including store-bought brands, carry risks to your hearing that you’ll want to weigh when considering using them. Younger men, surprisingly, could carry a higher risk factor.

What The Research Says About Hearing Loss And Pain Relievers

Esteemed universities, such as Vanderbilt, Harvard, and Brigham Young, conducted a thorough 30 year study. A bi-yearly survey was sent to 27,000 participants between the age of 40 and 74 which included lifestyle and health questions.

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

The data also showed something even more alarming. Men who are under the age of 50 who routinely use acetaminophen were nearly two times as likely to have loss of hearing. The chance of developing hearing loss is 50/50 for individuals who take aspirin frequently. And there’s a 61% chance that hearing loss will develop in people who use NSAIDs (ibuprofen and naproxen).

Another unexpected thing that was revealed was that high doses taken once in a while were not as harmful for your hearing as low doses taken frequently.

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 these discoveries are persuasive enough that we should reconsider how we’re utilizing pain relievers.

Pain Relievers And Hearing Loss – Current Theories

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

Your nerves convey the sensation of pain to your brain. Over-the-counter pain relievers work by limiting the flow of blood to particular nerves. This disrupts nerve signals that usually communicate with the brain, so you feel a reduced pain level.

Researchers think this process also reduces the flow of blood in the inner ear. This blood carries vital nutrients and oxygen. When the flow is reduced for extended time periods, cells become malnourished and die.

Acetaminophen, which showed the most appreciable correlation, could also reduce the production of a specific protein that helps shield the inner ear from loud noises.

What You Can do?

Probably the most significant point to consider is that men under 50 were more likely to suffer hearing impairment from pain relievers. This verifies that hearing loss doesn’t just affect the elderly. But as you age, if you take the proper steps you will have a better chance of maintaining your hearing.

While it’s important to note that taking these pain relievers can have some unfavorable consequences, that doesn’t mean you need to completely stop using them. Take pain relievers as prescribed and reduce how often you use them if possible.

Try to find other pain relief solutions, including gentle exercise. You should also minimize the consumption of inflammation-causing foods and boost Omega-3 fat in your diet. These methods have been shown to naturally reduce pain and inflammation while improving blood flow.

Lastly, is an appointment to see us every year to get your hearing tested. Don’t forget, hearing tests are for individuals of all ages. The best time to start talking to us about preventing further hearing loss is when you under 50.

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