Research Shows a Connection Between Hearing Loss And Substance Abuse

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

More than likely you are aware that the US . is facing an opioid crisis. Overdoses are killing over 130 individuals every day. 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 team at the University of Michigan, there’s a connection between those under the age of fifty who suffer from loss of hearing and abuse of alcohol or other substances.

After analyzing roughly 86,000 participants, they found this connection is stronger the younger the person is. Regrettably, it’s still not well known what causes that link to begin with.

Here’s what was found by this research:

  • 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 two times as likely to misuse opioids than their peers if they developed hearing loss when they were under the age of fifty. They were also usually more likely to misuse other things, such as alcohol.
  • When it comes to hearing loss, people over the age of fifty who developed hearing loss were not different from their peers when it comes to substance abuse.

Hope and Solutions

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

  • 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 rush, especially if there’s a life-threatening emergency waiting for them. In these cases, if patients aren’t able to communicate very well, say they can’t hear questions or instructions from the staff, they might not get 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 these situations, it’s common for people to self medicate, especially if the individual in question doesn’t really understand the cause–he or she may not even realizethat hearing loss is the issue.
  • 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.

Whether loss of hearing is made worse by these situations, or those with loss of hearing are more likely to have them, the negative 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 protocols be kept up to date by doctors and emergency departments. It would be helpful if doctors were on the lookout for people with loss of hearing, 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 sought help when we need it.

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

  • Will I get addicted to this drug? Is there a different medicine that is less dangerous for my hearing, or do I really need this one.
  • Will I have an ototoxic reaction to this medication? What are the alternatives?

Never go home from a doctors appointment with medications unless you are completely clear on their risks, what the dosage schedule is and how they influence your general health.

Additionally, if you believe you have hearing loss, don’t wait to get tested. Ignoring your hearing loss for just two years can pay 26% more for your health care. So schedule 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.


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