Over-The-Counter Pain Medications And Hearing Loss

Woman taking pain killers and thinking about her hearing.

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

Many popular pain medicines, including those bought over-the-counter, pose risks to your hearing that you’ll want to weigh when considering taking them. Surprisingly, younger men could be at higher risk.

Pain Relievers And Hearing Loss – What The Research Says

A comprehensive, 30-year collaborative study was conducted involving researchers from prestigious 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 questionnaire that included numerous lifestyle and health questions.

Researchers were not certain what to expect because the survey was very diverse. After looking at the data, they were surprised to find a strong link between loss of hearing and over-the-counter pain relievers.

The data also revealed something even more shocking. Men who are 50 or under who frequently use acetaminophen were nearly twice as likely to have hearing loss. Individuals who frequently used aspirin had a 50% chance of experiencing hearing loss. And those who used NSAIDs (ibuprofen, naproxen) had a 61% chance of getting permanent hearing loss.

It was also striking that taking low doses frequently seemed to be more detrimental to their hearing than taking higher doses once in a while.

It’s significant to note this connection, but it doesn’t definitively demonstrate whether the pain relievers actually were the cause of the hearing loss. Causation can only be proven with further study. But these results are compelling enough that we should rethink how we’re utilizing pain relievers.

Pain Relievers And Hearing Loss – Current Theories

There are numerous theories as to why pain relievers could cause hearing loss which experts have come up with.

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

There may also be a reduction of blood flow to the inner ear according to researchers. This blood brings vital oxygen and nutrients. Cells will die from undernourishment if this blood flow is reduced for extended periods.

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

What You Can do?

The most remarkable insight was that men younger than 50 were more likely to be affected. This confirms that hearing loss doesn’t just impact the elderly. The steps you take when you’re younger can help preserve your hearing as you age.

While it’s significant to note that using these pain relievers can have some adverse repercussions, that doesn’t mean you have to completely stop using them. Take pain relievers as prescribed and lessen how often you use them if possible.

Look for other pain relief options, including gentle exercise. You should also reduce the consumption of inflammation-causing foods and boost Omega-3 fat in your diet. Reduced pain and improved blood flow have been shown to come from these methods.

Lastly, is an appointment to see us each year to get your hearing tested. Don’t forget, hearing tests are for people of all ages. The best time to start speaking with us about avoiding further 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.