Hearing Health Blog

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

The US. is having an opioid crisis as you’re likely aware. More than 130 people are dying each day from an overdose. There is a link, which you may not have heard about, between drug and alcohol abuse and loss of hearing.

According to new research published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine and carried out by a team from the University of Michigan, there’s a connection between those under fifty who suffer from loss of hearing and abuse of alcohol or other substances.

After evaluating nearly 86,000 respondents, they found this connection is stronger the younger the person is. Regrettably, it’s still unclear what causes that connection to begin with.

Here’s what was found by this study:

  • People who developed hearing loss when they were younger than fifty were at least twice as likely to abuse opioids as their peers. Other substances, like alcohol, were also inclined to be misused by this group.
  • Individuals who developed hearing loss when they were the ages of 35 and 49 were two times as likely to develop general substance abuse problems than their peers.
  • People who developed hearing loss over the age of fifty did not differ from their peers when it comes to substance abuse rates.

Hope and Solutions

Because scientists have already taken into consideration class and economics so those numbers are especially staggering. We have to do something about it, though, now that we have identified a relationship. Well, that can be difficult without knowing the exact cause (remember: correlation is not causation). Researchers did have a couple of theories:

  • Higher blood pressure: It’s also true, of course, that alcohol raises your blood pressure, sometimes to levels that are unhealthy. And both some pain killers and also high blood pressure have been shown to harm your hearing.
  • Lack of communication: Getting people in and out as quickly and efficiently as possible is what emergency departments are meant to do. And if there is a life threatening emergency they can be in even more of a hurry than normal. In situations like this, a patient might not get correct treatment because they can’t hear questions and directions very well. They may not hear dosage information or other medication instructions.
  • Social solitude: Cognitive decline and social isolation are well known to be associated with hearing loss. In these situations, 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.
  • Ototoxic medications: These medications are known to cause hearing loss.

Whether these incidents increase hearing loss, or those with hearing loss are more likely to have them, the harmful consequences to your health are the same.

Substance Abuse And Hearing Loss, How to Prevent it

The authors of the study recommend that doctors and emergency responders work very hard to ensure that their communication standards are current and being followed. In other words, it would help if doctors were on the lookout for the indications of hearing loss in younger people. We individuals don’t seek help when we should and that would also be very helpful.

The following question need to be asked of your doctor:

  • Will I get addicted to this drug? Do I really need it, or is there an alternative medication available that is less dangerous?
  • Is this medication ototoxic? What are the alternate options?

If you are unsure of how a medication will impact your general health, what the risk are and how they should be taken, you shouldn’t leave the office with them.

Also, don’t wait to get tested if suspect that you are already suffering from hearing loss. Ignoring your hearing loss for just two years can pay 26% more for your health care. Schedule a hearing test right away.

Why wait? You don't have to live with hearing loss! Call Us