Research Demonstrates a Connection Between Substance Abuse And Hearing Loss

Young man with hearing loss drinking more alcohol than he should.

You most likely are aware that the US . is having an opioid crisis. Overdoses are killing over 130 people daily. There is a connection, which you might not be aware of, between drug and alcohol abuse and loss of hearing.

According to new research published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine and conducted by a team at the University of Michigan, there’s a link between alcohol and drug abuse and people under fifty who have loss of hearing.

After analyzing nearly 86,000 respondents, they found this link is stronger the younger the person is. What causes the connection to begin with, regrettably, is still not well understood.

Here’s what this particular research found:

  • People were two times as likely to develop a general substance abuse issue than their peers if they got hearing loss between the ages of 35 and 49.
  • People were at least twice as likely to misuse opioids than their peers if they developed hearing loss when they were under the age of fifty. Other things, like alcohol, were also inclined to be abused by this group.
  • People who developed hearing loss over fifty were not different from their peers when it comes to substance abuse rates.

Hope and Solutions

Those numbers are shocking, especially because researchers have already accounted for concerns like economics and class. So, now that we’ve recognized a connection, we need to do something about it, right? Keep in mind, causation is not correlation so without knowing the exact cause, it will be difficult to directly deal with the issue. A couple of theories have been put forward by experts:

  • Social solitude: Cognitive decline and social isolation are well known to be associated with hearing loss. In situations like these, self-medication can be relatively common, especially if the individual in question doesn’t really understand the cause–he or she may not even realizethat hearing loss is the issue.
  • Lack of communication: Processing as quickly and efficiently as possible is what emergency departments are designed to do. Sometimes they are in a rush, especially if there’s a life-threatening emergency waiting for them. In cases such as this, a patient may not get proper treatment because they can’t hear questions and directions properly. They might agree to suggestions of pain medication without completely listening to the risks, or they may mishear dosage instructions.
  • Higher blood pressure: Of course, it’s also true, That blood pressure is raised by alcohol, sometimes to levels that are unhealthy. And both some pain killers and also high blood pressure have been shown to harm your hearing.
  • Ototoxic medications: Hearing loss is known to be caused by these medications.

Whether loss of hearing is increased by these incidents, or that they are more likely to happen to those with hearing loss, the negative consequences to your health are the same.

Substance Abuse And Hearing Loss, How to Prevent it

It’s suggested by the writers of the study, that communications standards be kept current by doctors and emergency responders. It would help if doctors were on the lookout for individuals with loss of hearing, in other words. But it would also help if we as individuals were more aware of some of the signs of hearing loss, too, and sought out help when we need it.

The following question need to be asked of your doctor:

  • Will I become addicted to this drug? Is there an alternative medicine that is safer for my hearing, or do I really need this one.
  • Will I have an ototoxic reaction to this medication? Are there alternatives?

If you are uncertain how a medication will impact your general health, what the dangers are and how they should be taken, you shouldn’t take them home.

In addition, don’t wait to be tested if suspect that you are already suffering from loss of hearing. Ignoring your hearing loss for just two years can pay 26% more for your health care. So make an appointment now to have your hearing tested.

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.