Research Demonstrates a Connection Between Substance Abuse And Hearing Loss

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. Over 130 people are dying each day from an overdose. But what you may not be aware of is that there is a troubling link between loss of hearing and drug and alcohol abuse.

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 alcohol and drug abuse and people under fifty who have hearing loss.

After analyzing approximately 86,000 participants, they found this link is stronger the younger the individual is. What causes the link to begin with, unfortunately, is still not well understood.

Here’s what this specific study found:

  • People were two times as likely to develop a general substance abuse issue than their peers if they got hearing loss between the ages of 35 and 49.
  • People who developed hearing loss when they were younger than fifty were at least twice as likely to misuse opioids as their peers. Other substances, such as alcohol, were also more likely to be abused by this group.
  • 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.

Solutions and Hope

Because experts have already accounted for economics and class so those figures are particularly staggering. We have to do something about it, though, now that we have recognized a connection. Well, that can be difficult without knowing the exact cause (remember: causation is not correlation). Researchers did have a couple of theories:

  • Social isolation: It’s well established that hearing loss can lead to social isolation and cognitive decline. In situations like these, 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.
  • 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 levels that are unhealthy. And both some pain killers and also high blood pressure have been shown to harm your hearing.
  • Lack of communication: Emergency medical departments are designed to respond to people, deal with them, and get them out as efficiently (or, in some cases, quickly) as possible. And if there is a life threatening emergency they can be in even more of a hurry than usual. In situations such as this, a patient might not get correct treatment because they can’t hear questions and instructions very well. They might not hear dosage information or other medication guidelines.

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

Substance Abuse And Hearing Loss, How to Prevent it

It’s recommended by the writers of the study, that communications standards be kept up to date by doctors and emergency departments. It would be helpful 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 extremely helpful.

The following question need to be asked of your doctor:

  • Will I become addicted to this medicine? Do I really need it, or is there a different medication available that is less dangerous?
  • Will I have an ototoxic response to this medication? Are there alternate options?

If you are unsure of how a medication will impact your general health, what the risk are and how they should be taken, you should not take then home.

In addition, if you think you are suffering from hearing loss, don’t wait to get checked. Neglecting your hearing loss for just two years can increase your health care expenses by 26%. So schedule an appointment now to have a hearing test.

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.

Talk To Us.

To send us a non-urgent message use the message us button on the bottom right of your screen.

Our contact form is for non-urgent questions only and should not be used for life threatening or urgent medical questions. You should contact 911 for life threatening emergencies.