Cedar Audiology Associates - Cleveland, OH

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

More than likely you are aware that the United States is having an opioid crisis. Overdoses are killing over 130 people daily. There is a link, which you might 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 at the University of Michigan, there’s a connection between alcohol and drug abuse and those under fifty who suffer from hearing loss.

After evaluating nearly 86,000 respondents, they found this link is stronger the younger the person is. Regrettably, it’s still unclear what causes that link to begin with.

Here’s what this specific study found:

  • People who developed hearing loss when they were the ages of 35 and 49 were two times as likely to develop general substance abuse problems than their peers.
  • People were at least two times as likely to abuse opioids than their peers if they developed hearing loss when they were less than fifty. Other substances, such as alcohol, were also more likely to be abused by this group.
  • People who developed hearing loss over the age of fifty were not different from their peers when it comes to substance abuse rates.

Hope and Solutions

Those numbers are staggering, particularly because experts have already accounted for issues such as economics and class. So, now that we’ve recognized a connection, we need to do something about it, right? Well, that can be a problem without knowing the exact cause (remember: causation is not correlation). A couple of theories have been put forward by researchers:

  • Higher blood pressure: It’s also true, of course, That blood pressure is raised by alcohol, sometimes to levels that are unhealthy. And both some pain killers and also high blood pressure have been shown to harm your hearing.
  • Ototoxic medications: Hearing loss is known to be caused by these medications.
  • 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, especially if there’s a life-threatening emergency waiting for them. In cases such as this, a patient might not get correct treatment because they can’t hear questions and instructions properly. They may not hear dosage advise or other medication instructions.
  • Social isolation: It’s well established that hearing loss can lead to social isolation and cognitive decline. 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 made worse by these incidents, or that they are more likely to happen to those with hearing loss, the negative consequences are the same to your health.

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 hearing loss, in other words. But it would also help if we as individuals were more aware of some of the signs of hearing loss, too, and got help when we need it.

The following question should be asked of your doctor:

  • Will I get addicted to this medication? Is there an alternative medicine that is less dangerous for my hearing, or do I really need this one.
  • Is this medication ototoxic? Are there alternatives?

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

Also, don’t wait to be tested if suspect that you are already suffering from hearing loss. Ignoring your hearing loss for just two years can increase your health care expenses by 26%. So make an appointment now to have your hearing tested.

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