Woman taking pain killers and thinking about her hearing.

You might not be aware that there are risks linked to ibuprofen, aspirin, and other over-the-counter pain relievers according to new studies.

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

Pain Relievers And Hearing Loss – What The Research Says

Esteemed universities, such as Vanderbilt, Harvard, and Brigham Young, performed a comprehensive 30 year study. The researchers asked 27,000 people ages 40 to 74, to fill out a biennial questionnaire that included numerous lifestyle and health questions.

Researchers were not certain what to expect because the questionnaire was very broad. But the data demonstrated that over-the-counter pain relievers and hearing loss had a solid correlation.

They also faced a more surprising conclusion. Men younger than 50 were approximately two times as likely to have hearing loss if they frequently used acetaminophen. The chance of getting hearing loss is 50/50 for individuals who take aspirin regularly. And those who used NSAIDs (naproxen, ibuprofen) had a 61% chance of getting irreversible hearing loss.

It was also striking that taking low doses frequently appeared to be worse for their hearing than taking higher doses once in a while.

We can’t be sure that the pain reliever actually was the cause of this loss of hearing even though we can see a definite connection. More studies are needed to prove causation. But these results are compelling enough that we should rethink how we’re utilizing pain relievers.

Hearing Loss And Pain Relievers – Current Theories

Scientists have numerous plausible theories as to why pain relievers may cause hearing damage.

Your nerves communicate the experience of pain to your brain. Over-the-counter pain relievers work by decreasing the flow of blood to specific nerves. This impedes 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 scientists. This blood provides vital oxygen and nutrients. Cells will die from malnourishment if this blood flow is decreased for extended periods.

Acetaminophen, which showed the most significant correlation, might also minimize the production of a specific protein that helps protect the inner ear from loud noises.

Is There Anything That Can be Done?

The most significant insight was that men younger than 50 were the most likely to be impacted. This confirms that hearing loss doesn’t just affect the elderly. The steps you take when you’re younger can help safeguard your hearing as you age.

While we aren’t implying that you completely stop using pain relievers, you should recognize that there may be unfavorable repercussions. Use pain medication only when you really need to and when using prescription medication, only as prescribed.

If you can find alternative solutions you should consider them as a first possibility. It would also be a practical idea to increase the Omega-3 fat in your diet and minimize foods that cause inflammation. These approaches have been shown to naturally decrease inflammation and pain while enhancing blood flow.

Lastly, is an appointment to see us each year to have your hearing tested. Don’t forget, hearing examinations are for individuals of all ages. If you’re under 50, now is the time to start talking to us about avoiding further loss of hearing.

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