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

The US. is facing an opioid crisis as you’re likely aware. Overdoses are killing more than 130 individuals every day. But what you might not have heard yet is that there is a disturbing connection between loss of hearing and drug and alcohol abuse.

According to new research published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine and conducted by a team at the University of Michigan, there’s a link between alcohol and drug abuse and those under fifty who suffer from hearing loss.

Around 86,000 people participated in the study and it was discovered that the younger the person, the stronger the connection. Unfortunately, it’s still unclear what causes that link in the first place.

Here’s what was found by this study:

  • People who developed hearing loss over the age of fifty did not differ from their peers when it comes to substance abuse rates.
  • 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 two times as likely to misuse opioids as their peers. Other things, like alcohol, were also more likely to be misused by this group.

Hope and Solutions

Because researchers have already taken into consideration class and economics so those numbers are especially shocking. 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). Researchers had a couple of theories:

  • Higher blood pressure: It’s also true, of course, that alcohol raises your blood pressure, sometimes to levels that are unhealthy. And both high blood pressure and some pain killers have been shown to harm your hearing.
  • Social isolation: Cognitive decline and social isolation are well known to be associated with hearing loss. 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.
  • Lack of communication: Processing 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 situations such as this, a patient may not get proper treatment because they can’t hear questions and directions properly. They might agree to suggestions of pain medicine without completely listening to the concerns, or they may mishear dosage directions.
  • Medications that are ototoxic: These medications are known to cause hearing loss.

Whether these occurrences increase hearing loss, or that they are more likely to happen to those with loss of hearing, the harmful repercussions 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 responders. It would be helpful if doctors were on the lookout for people with hearing loss, in other words. But it would also help if we as individuals were more aware of some of the signs of hearing loss, too, and got help when we need it.

The following question should be asked of your doctor:

  • Will I get addicted to this drug? Is there a different medicine that is less dangerous for my hearing, or do I truly need this one.
  • Will I have an ototoxic response to this medication? What are the 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.

Additionally, if you think you are suffering from hearing loss, don’t wait to get tested. Neglecting your hearing loss for just two years can increase your health care expenses by 26%. Schedule a hearing examination today.

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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