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

The United States is in the midst of an opioid crisis as you’re likely aware. Over 130 people are dying every day from an overdose. There is a connection, which you might not be aware of, 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 those under the age of fifty who suffer from hearing loss and abuse of alcohol or other substances.

Roughly 86,000 people participated in the study and it was discovered that the younger the person, the stronger the connection. What causes the link to begin with, regrettably, is still not well understood.

Here’s what this particular research found:

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

Hope and Solutions

Because experts have already taken into consideration class and economics so those figures are particularly shocking. So, now that we’ve identified a relationship, we have to do something about it, right? Keep in mind, causation is not correlation so without knowing the exact cause, it will be hard to directly address the problem. Researchers had a couple of theories:

  • Social isolation: 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, and if the person doesn’t understand that hearing loss is an issue or what the cause is, this is especially true.
  • Higher blood pressure: It’s also true, of course, 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: Emergency departments are designed to respond to people, treat them, and get them out 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 hurry than usual. In these cases, if patients aren’t capable of communicating very well, say they can’t hear questions or directions from the staff, they might not get proper treatment. They may not hear dosage advise or other medication instructions.
  • Ototoxic medications: These medications are known to cause hearing loss.

Whether loss of hearing is made worse by these situations, or that they are more likely to happen to those with loss of hearing, the harmful consequences to your health are the same.

Substance Abuse And Hearing Loss, How to Prevent it

It’s recommended by the authors of the study, that communications protocols be kept current by doctors and emergency responders. In other words, it would help if doctors were on the lookout for the indications of hearing loss in younger people. But it would also help if we as individuals were more mindful of some of the signs of hearing loss, too, and sought out help when we need it.

The following question need to be asked of your doctor:

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

If you are uncertain how a medication will impact your overall 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 think that you might already be suffering from loss of hearing. Neglecting your hearing loss for only two years can pay 26% more for your health care. 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.
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