Research Demonstrates a Connection Between Substance Abuse And Hearing Loss

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

The US. is having an opioid crisis as you’re likely aware. Overdoses are killing over 130 people each day. 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 from the University of Michigan, there’s a connection between alcohol and drug abuse and those under fifty who have hearing loss.

After evaluating around 86,000 respondents, they found this link is stronger the younger the individual is. Sadly, it’s still not well known what causes that link in the first place.

Here’s what this specific study found:

  • When it comes to hearing loss, people over the age of fifty who developed hearing loss were not different from their peers in terms of substance abuse.
  • People who developed hearing loss when they were the ages of 35 and 49 were twice as likely to develop general substance abuse issues than their peers.
  • People who developed hearing loss under the age of fifty were at least twice as likely to misuse opioids than their peers. They were also usually more likely to misuse other things, such as alcohol.

Solutions and Hope

Because scientists have already accounted for class and economics so those numbers are especially staggering. So, now that we’ve recognized a relationship, we need to do something about it, right? Well, that can be difficult without understanding the exact cause (remember: causation is not correlation). A couple of theories have been put forward by experts:

  • Ototoxic medications: These medications are known to cause hearing loss.
  • Higher blood pressure: Of course, it’s also true, 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: Processing as quickly and efficiently as possible is what emergency departments are designed to do. Sometimes they are in a rush, especially if there’s a life-threatening emergency waiting for them. In situations such as this, a patient might not get proper treatment because they can’t hear questions and directions properly. They might agree to recommendations of pain medicine without completely understanding the risks, or they might mishear dosage directions.
  • Social solitude: Cognitive decline and social isolation are well known to be associated with hearing loss. 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.

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

Preventing Hearing Loss and Substance Abuse

It’s recommended by the authors of the study, that communications standards be kept up to date by doctors and emergency departments. It would help if doctors were on the lookout for individuals with loss of hearing, in other words. We individuals don’t get help when we need to and that would also be extremely helpful.

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

  • Will I get addicted to this medicine? Do I actually need it, or is there a different medicine available that is less dangerous?
  • Is this drug ototoxic? What are the alternatives?

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.

Additionally, if you think you are suffering from hearing loss, don’t wait to get checked. If you ignore your hearing loss for only two years you will increase your health care expenses by 26%. Schedule a hearing test right away.

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.