Woman taking pain killers and thinking about her hearing.

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

Many prevalent pain medicines, including store-bought brands, pose risks to your hearing that you’ll want to consider when taking them. Surprisingly, younger men may be at greater risk.

What Studies Say About Hearing Loss And Pain Killers

Esteemed universities, like Vanderbilt, Harvard, and Brigham Young, carried out a comprehensive 30 year study. A bi-yearly questionnaire was sent to 27,000 individuals between the age of 40 and 74 which included lifestyle and health questions.

Researchers were not sure what to expect because the survey was very extensive. After reviewing the data, they were surprised to find a strong link between hearing loss and over-the-counter pain relievers.

The data also revealed something even more alarming. Men 50 or younger were nearly two times as likely to have hearing loss if they frequently used acetaminophen. The chance of getting hearing loss is 50/50 for individuals who take aspirin regularly. And there is a 61% chance that hearing loss will develop in individuals who use NSAIDs (ibuprofen and naproxen).

It was also striking that taking low doses frequently seemed to be more detrimental to their hearing than taking higher doses occasionally.

It’s significant to note this connection, but it doesn’t definitively reveal whether the pain relievers in fact caused the hearing loss. Causation can only be proven with further study. But these findings are compelling enough that we should rethink how we’re using pain relievers.

Pain Relievers And Hearing Loss – Present Theories

There are several theories as to why pain relievers might result in hearing loss which experts have come up with.

Your nerves communicate the sensation of pain to your brain. Over-the-counter pain relievers work by limiting the flow of blood to specific nerves. This disrupts nerve signals that normally communicate with the brain, so you feel a reduced pain level.

Researchers think this process also reduces blood flow in the inner ear. Lowered blood flow means less oxygen and nutrients. When the flow is decreased for prolonged periods of time, cells end up malnourished and die.

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

Is There Anything That Can be Done?

The most noteworthy insight was that men under 50 were the most likely to be impacted. This verifies that hearing loss doesn’t just impact the elderly. But as you get older, if you take the appropriate steps you will have a better chance of maintaining your hearing.

While we aren’t implying that you entirely stop using pain relievers, you should acknowledge that there might be negative repercussions. Use pain medication only when you really need to and when using prescription medication, only as prescribed.

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 increase Omega-3 fat in your diet. Reduced pain and enhanced blood flow have been demonstrated to come from these methods.

And finally, make an appointment with us for a hearing test. Don’t forget, you’re never too young to get your hearing tested. If you’re under 50, now is the time to start talking to us about eliminating additional hearing loss.

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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.

Main Line Audiology Consultants, PC