Woman taking pain killers and thinking about her hearing.

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

Many prevalent pain relievers, including those bought over-the-counter, carry risks to your hearing that you’ll want to weigh when considering using them. Surprisingly, younger men could be at greater risk.

What Studies Say About Hearing Loss And Pain Relievers

A comprehensive, 30-year collective study was performed among researchers from esteemed universities such as Harvard, Brigham Young, and Vanderbilt. The researchers asked 27,000 individuals between the ages of 40 and 74, to complete a biyearly survey that included several lifestyle and health questions.

Researchers weren’t certain what to expect because the questionnaire was very broad. But the data demonstrated that over-the-counter pain relievers and loss of hearing had a strong link.

The data also revealed something even more alarming. Men younger than 50 were almost two times as likely to have hearing loss if they frequently used acetaminophen. The chance of initiating hearing loss is 50/50 for individuals who take aspirin regularly. And those who used NSAIDs (ibuprofen, naproxen) had a 61% chance of developing lasting hearing loss.

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

It’s relevant to mention this connection, but it doesn’t definitively reveal whether the pain relievers actually were the cause of the hearing loss. Causation can only be demonstrated with further study. But these discoveries are compelling enough that we ought to reconsider how we’re using pain relievers.

Hearing Loss And Pain Relievers – Current Theories

Scientists have numerous plausible theories as to why pain relievers could cause hearing impairment.

When you experience pain, your nerves convey this feeling to the brain. Over-the-counter pain relievers work by limiting blood flow to specific nerves. This interrupts nerve signals that usually communicate with the brain, so you feel a reduced pain level.

Researchers believe this process also decreases blood flow in the inner ear. This blood carries vital nutrients and oxygen. Cells will die from undernourishment if this blood flow is reduced for prolonged periods.

Acetaminophen, which showed the most substantial link, 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 noteworthy insight was that men younger than 50 were more likely to be impacted. This verifies 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 suggesting you entirely stop taking pain relievers, you should acknowledge that there might be unfavorable consequences. Take pain relievers as prescribed and reduce how often you use them if possible.

If you can find alternative solutions you should consider them as a first option. You should also decrease the consumption of inflammation-causing foods and boost Omega-3 fat in your diet. Decreased pain and better blood flow have been demonstrated to come from these practices.

And finally, schedule an appointment with us for a hearing examination. Remember, you’re never too young to have your hearing checked. If you’re younger than 50, now is the time to start talking to us about avoiding further hearing loss.

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