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

The US. is having an opioid crisis as you’re likely aware. Overdoses are killing more than 130 individuals daily. There is a link, which you might not be aware of, between drug and alcohol abuse and hearing loss.

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

After evaluating approximately 86,000 respondents, they found this link is stronger the younger the individual is. What causes the connection to begin with, unfortunately, is still not well understood.

Here’s what this particular study found:

  • Individuals who developed hearing loss between the ages of 35-49 were two times as likely to develop general substance abuse issues than their peers.
  • In terms of hearing loss, people above the age of fifty who developed hearing loss didn’t differ from their peers when it comes to substance abuse.
  • People were at least twice as likely to abuse opioids than their peers if they developed hearing loss when they were less than fifty. They were also usually more likely to abuse other substances, such as alcohol.

Solutions and Hope

Because researchers have already accounted for class and economics so those figures are particularly shocking. So, now that we’ve identified a relationship, we need to do something about it, right? Well, that can be difficult without understanding the exact cause (remember: causation is not correlation). Researchers did have a couple of theories:

  • Ototoxic medications: Hearing loss is known to be caused by these medications.
  • 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.
  • Social solitude: Cognitive decline and social isolation are well known to be associated with hearing loss. In these situations, it’s common for people to self medicate, 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: Emergency medical departments are designed to respond to people, treat them, and get them out as efficiently (or, in many cases, quickly) as possible. And if there is a life threatening emergency they can be in even more of a hurry than normal. In these cases, if patients aren’t capable of communicating well, say they aren’t able to hear questions or directions from the staff, they may not receive correct treatment. They may agree to suggestions of pain medicine without completely listening to the concerns, or they might mishear dosage directions.

Whether these incidents increase loss of hearing, or that they are more likely to happen to those with hearing loss, the damaging consequences are the same to your health.

Substance Abuse And Hearing Loss, How to Prevent it

The authors of the study suggest that doctors and emergency responders work extra hard to make sure that their communication standards are up to date and being followed. It would be helpful if doctors were on the lookout for individuals with loss of hearing, in other words. 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:

  • Is this drug addictive? Is there a different medicine that is less dangerous for my hearing, or do I truly need this one.
  • Will I have an ototoxic response to this drug? What are the alternate options?

Never go home from a doctors appointment with medicines unless you are crystal clear on their risks, what the dosage schedule is and how they affect your overall health.

In addition, don’t wait to be tested if suspect that you are already suffering from loss of hearing. Neglecting your hearing loss for just two years can pay 26% more for your health care. Schedule a hearing exam right away.

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.
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