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

The United States is facing an opioid crisis as you’re probably aware. Over 130 people are dying every day from an overdose. 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 carried out 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 nearly 86,000 respondents, they found this link is stronger the younger the individual is. Unfortunately, it’s still not well known what causes that connection to begin with.

Here’s what was found by this research:

  • 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 misuse other things, like alcohol.
  • People were two times as likely to develop a general substance abuse issue than their peers if they got hearing loss when they were between the ages of 35 and 49.
  • People who developed hearing loss over fifty were not different from their peers in terms of substance abuse rates.

Solutions and Hope

Those figures are shocking, especially because scientists have already taken into account concerns like class and economics. We need to do something about it, though, now that we have recognized a connection. Remember, correlation is not causation so without knowing the exact cause, it will be difficult to directly address the issue. A couple of theories have been put forward by experts:

  • Medications that are ototoxic: Hearing loss is known to be caused by these medications.
  • Higher blood pressure: Of course, it’s also true, 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.
  • Lack of communication: Emergency medical departments are designed to respond to people, deal with them, and process them as efficiently (or, in some cases, quickly) as they can. And if there is a life threatening emergency they can be in even more of a rush than normal. In these situations, if patients aren’t able to communicate very well, say they can’t hear questions or directions from the staff, they might not receive proper treatment. They may not hear dosage advise or other medication instructions.
  • Social solitude: Cognitive decline and social isolation are well known to be associated with hearing loss. In situations like these, 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.

Whether loss of hearing is increased by these incidents, or that they are more likely to occur to those with loss of hearing, the negative consequences to your health are the same.

Substance Abuse And Hearing Loss, How to Prevent it

It’s suggested by the authors of the study, that communications protocols be kept up to date by doctors and emergency departments. Put another way, it would help if doctors were on the lookout for the indications of hearing loss in younger individuals. We individuals don’t seek help when we need to and that would also be very helpful.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions of your doctors such as:

  • Will I get addicted to this drug? Do I actually need it, or is there an alternative medicine available that is safer?
  • Will I have an ototoxic response to this medication? What are the alternate options?

If you are unsure of how a medication will affect your overall health, what the risk are and how they should be taken, you shouldn’t take then home.

In addition, if you suspect you have hearing loss, don’t wait to get checked. Neglecting your hearing loss for just two years can increase your health care expenses by 26%. Schedule a hearing exam today.

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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