Research Shows 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 United States is in the midst of an opioid crisis. Overdoses are killing more than 130 individuals every day. There is a link, which you may not have heard about, between drug and alcohol abuse and hearing loss.

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

After analyzing around 86,000 respondents, they found this link is stronger the younger the individual is. Regrettably, it’s still not well known what causes that link in the first place.

Here’s what this particular study found:

  • People were at least twice as likely to abuse opioids than their peers if they developed hearing loss when they were under the age of fifty. They were also usually more likely to abuse other substances, such as alcohol.
  • In terms of hearing loss, people above the age of fifty who developed hearing loss were not different from their peers when it comes to substance abuse.
  • People were two times as likely to develop a general substance abuse problem than their peers if they got hearing loss when they were between the ages of 35 and 49.

Hope and Solutions

Because experts have already taken into consideration economics and class so those numbers are especially staggering. So, now that we’ve recognized a connection, we need to do something about it, right? Remember, correlation is not causation so without knowing the exact cause, it will be hard to directly deal with the problem. A couple of theories have been put forward by experts:

  • Higher blood pressure: It’s also true, of course, That blood pressure is raised by alcohol, sometimes to levels that are unhealthy. And both high blood pressure and some pain killers have been shown to harm your hearing.
  • Social isolation: Cognitive decline and social isolation are well known to be associated with hearing loss. In situations like these, self-medication can be relatively common, and if the person doesn’t understand that hearing loss is an issue or what the cause is, this is especially true.
  • Medications that are ototoxic: Hearing loss is known to be caused by these medications.
  • Lack of communication: Emergency medical departments are designed to get people in, deal with them, and process them as efficiently (or, in many cases, quickly) as they can. Sometimes they are in a hurry, particularly if there’s a life-threatening emergency waiting for them. In these situations, if patients aren’t capable of communicating well, say they aren’t able to hear questions or directions from the staff, they may not get proper treatment. They may agree to recommendations of pain medicine without completely listening to the risks, or they might mishear dosage instructions.

Whether these incidents increase hearing loss, or that they are more likely to occur to those with loss of hearing, the negative repercussions are the same to your health.

Preventing Hearing Loss and Substance Abuse

It’s suggested by the writers of the study, that communications protocols be kept up to date by doctors and emergency departments. 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 mindful 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 medication? Do I really need it, or is there an alternative medication available that is less dangerous?
  • Will I have an ototoxic reaction to this medication? What are the alternate options?

If you are uncertain how a medication will impact your overall health, what the risk are and how they should be used, you shouldn’t leave the office with them.

Also, don’t wait to get tested if suspect that you might already be suffering from hearing loss. If you ignore your hearing loss for only two years you will increase your health care costs by 26%. So schedule an appointment now to have your hearing tested.

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