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

You’re probably aware that the US . is having an opioid crisis. Over 130 people are dying each day from an overdose. There is a connection, 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 carried out by a team at the University of Michigan, there’s a connection between alcohol and drug abuse and those under fifty who suffer from loss of hearing.

After analyzing around 86,000 participants, they found this link is stronger the younger the individual is. What causes the connection in the first place, unfortunately, is still not well understood.

Here’s what this particular research 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 over the age of fifty who developed hearing loss were not different from their peers in terms of substance abuse.
  • People who developed hearing loss between the ages of 35 and 49 were twice as likely to develop general substance abuse problems than their peers.

Hope and Solutions

Because experts have already taken into consideration economics and class so those figures are especially staggering. So, now that we’ve recognized a relationship, we have to do something about it, right? Keep in mind, correlation is not causation so without knowing the exact cause, it will be hard to directly deal with the problem. 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.
  • Medications that are ototoxic: Hearing loss is known to be caused by these medications.
  • Social isolation: Cognitive decline and social isolation are well known to be associated with hearing loss. In situations like these, it’s common for people to self medicate, and if the person doesn’t understand that hearing loss is an issue or what the cause is, this is especially true.
  • Lack of communication: Getting people in and out as quickly and efficiently as possible is what emergency departments are meant to do. Sometimes they are in a hurry, particularly if there’s a life-threatening emergency waiting for them. In situations like this, a patient may not get proper treatment because they can’t hear questions and directions properly. They might not hear dosage information or other medication guidelines.

Whether these incidents increase loss of hearing, or those with hearing loss are more likely to have them, the harmful repercussions 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 be helpful 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 symptoms of hearing loss, too, and got help when we need it.

The following question should be asked of your doctor:

  • Is this medication addictive? Is there an alternative medication that is less dangerous for my hearing, or do I really need this one.
  • Is this drug ototoxic? What are the alternatives?

If you are uncertain how a medicine will affect your general health, what the risk are and how they should be used, you should not leave the office with them.

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