Research Shows a Link Between Loss of Hearing And Substance Abuse

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

More than likely you are aware that the US . is in the midst of an opioid crisis. Overdoses are killing more than 130 people on a daily basis. There is a connection, which you may not have heard about, between drug and alcohol abuse and loss of hearing.

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

Around 86,000 individuals participated in the study and it was discovered that the younger the person, the stronger the connection. What causes the link in the first place, regrettably, is still not well understood.

Here’s what this particular research found:

  • People who developed hearing loss when they were the ages of 35-49 were two times as likely to develop general substance abuse problems than their peers.
  • People were at least twice as likely to misuse opioids than their peers if they developed hearing loss when they were under the age of fifty. Other things, such as alcohol, were also more likely to be misused by this group.
  • When it comes to hearing loss, people older than fifty who developed hearing loss were not different from their peers in terms of substance abuse.

Solutions and Hope

Because scientists have already taken into consideration class and economics so those figures are particularly staggering. So, now that we’ve recognized a relationship, we need to do something about it, right? Well, that can be a problem without knowing the exact cause (remember: correlation is not causation). Researchers did have a couple of theories:

  • Higher blood pressure: Of course, it’s also true, That blood pressure is raised by alcohol, sometimes to unhealthy levels. And both some pain killers and also high blood pressure have been shown to harm your hearing.
  • Lack of communication: Getting people in and out as quickly and efficiently as possible is what emergency departments are designed to do. And if there is a life threatening emergency they can be in even more of a hurry than usual. In these situations, if patients aren’t able to communicate well, say they aren’t able to hear questions or directions from the staff, they may not receive proper treatment. They may not hear dosage advise or other medication directions.
  • Ototoxic medications: These medications are known to cause hearing loss.
  • 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.

Whether these situations increase hearing loss, or those with loss of hearing are more likely to have them, the damaging consequences are the same to your health.

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 responders. It would help if doctors were on the lookout for individuals with hearing loss, in other words. But it would also help if we as individuals were more aware of some of the symptoms of hearing loss, too, and got help when we need it.

Don’t be nervous to ask questions of your doctors like:

  • Is this medication addictive? Is there an alternative medicine that is less dangerous for my hearing, or do I truly need this one.
  • Will I have an ototoxic response to this medication? What are the alternatives?

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

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 make an appointment now to have your hearing tested.

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.