Research Shows a Connection Between Substance Abuse And Hearing Loss

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

You most likely are aware that the US . is in the midst of an opioid crisis. More than 130 people are dying every day from an overdose. 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 team from the University of Michigan, there’s a link between those under the age of fifty who suffer from hearing loss and abuse of alcohol or other substances.

After evaluating around 86,000 respondents, they found this link is stronger the younger the individual is. Unfortunately, it’s still not well known what causes that link to begin with.

Here’s what this particular research found:

  • People who developed hearing loss between the ages of 35 and 49 were two times as likely to develop general substance abuse issues than their peers.
  • People who developed hearing loss over fifty were not different from their peers in terms of substance abuse rates.
  • People were at least twice as likely to misuse opioids than their peers if they developed hearing loss when they were less than fifty. They were also generally more likely to misuse other substances, such as alcohol.

Solutions and Hope

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

  • Lack of communication: Emergency medical departments are designed to get people in, deal with them, and process them as efficiently (or, in many cases, quickly) as possible. Sometimes they are in a hurry, particularly if there’s a life-threatening emergency waiting for them. In these situations, if patients aren’t able to communicate very well, say they aren’t able to hear questions or directions from the staff, they might not receive correct treatment. They might not hear dosage information or other medication instructions.
  • Ototoxic medications: Hearing loss is known to be caused by these medications.
  • 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.
  • 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.

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

Substance Abuse And Hearing Loss, How to Prevent it

The authors of the research suggest that doctors and emergency departments work extra hard to ensure that their communication protocols are current and being implemented. It would help if doctors were on the lookout for people with hearing loss, in other words. We individuals don’t get help when we should and that would also be very helpful.

The following question need to be asked of your doctor:

  • Is this medication addictive? Is there a different medicine that is safer for my hearing, or do I truly need this one.
  • Is this drug ototoxic? What are the alternate options?

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.

In addition, don’t wait to be tested if suspect that you are already suffering from hearing loss. If you ignore your hearing loss for only two years you will increase your health care expenses by 26%. So schedule an appointment now to have your hearing tested.

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