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

More than likely you are aware that the United States is having an opioid crisis. Overdoses are killing more than 130 individuals every day. There is a connection, which you might not have heard about, 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 group from 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 evaluating approximately 86,000 respondents, they found this link is stronger the younger the person is. Sadly, it’s still not well known what causes that link in the first place.

Here’s what this specific research found:

  • People who developed hearing loss over the age of fifty were not different from their peers in terms of substance abuse rates.
  • People who developed hearing loss when they were younger than fifty were at least twice as likely to misuse opioids as their peers. Other things, like alcohol, were also more likely to be abused by this group.
  • People who developed hearing loss between the ages of 35 and 49 were twice as likely to develop general substance abuse problems than their peers.

Solutions and Hope

Those figures are staggering, particularly because scientists have already accounted for issues such as class and economics. We have to do something about it, though, now that we have identified a relationship. Remember, correlation is not causation so without knowing the exact cause, it will be difficult to directly deal with the problem. A couple of theories have been put forward by experts:

  • Higher blood pressure: It’s also true, of course, that alcohol raises your blood pressure, sometimes to unhealthy levels. And both some pain killers and also high blood pressure have been shown to harm your hearing.
  • 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, particularly if there’s a life-threatening emergency waiting for them. In cases like this, a patient might not get correct treatment because they can’t hear questions and directions very well. They may agree to suggestions of pain medication without completely listening to the concerns, or they might mishear dosage instructions.
  • Ototoxic medications: These medications are known to cause hearing loss.
  • Social solitude: It’s well established that hearing loss can lead to social isolation and cognitive decline. In situations like these, self-medication can be relatively common, 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 loss of hearing 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 current by doctors and emergency departments. It would help if doctors were on the lookout for individuals with hearing loss, in other words. We individuals don’t seek help when we should and that would also be extremely helpful.

The following question need to be asked of your doctor:

  • Is this drug addictive? Is there a different medicine that is less dangerous for my hearing, or do I really need this one.
  • Will I have an ototoxic response to this drug? Are there alternate options?

If you are uncertain how a medicine will affect your general health, what the dangers are and how they should be used, you should not leave the office with them.

Additionally, if you suspect you have hearing loss, don’t wait to get tested. If you ignore your hearing loss for only two years you will pay 26% more for your health care.

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