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 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 carried out by a team at the University of Michigan, there’s a connection between those under fifty who suffer from loss of hearing and abuse of alcohol or other substances.

After analyzing 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 was found by this study:

  • In terms of hearing loss, people older than fifty who developed hearing loss didn’t differ from their peers when it comes to substance abuse.
  • Individuals 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 under the age of fifty were at least twice as likely to abuse opioids than their peers. Other things, like alcohol, were also more likely to be abused by this group.

Hope and Solutions

Because experts have already accounted for class and economics so those figures are particularly staggering. So, now that we’ve identified a connection, we have 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 researchers:

  • 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 hurry, particularly if there’s a life-threatening emergency waiting for them. In cases like this, a patient may not get correct treatment because they can’t hear questions and directions very well. They might not hear dosage advise or other medication directions.
  • Medications that are ototoxic: These medications are known to cause hearing loss.
  • Higher blood pressure: It’s also true, of course, that alcohol raises your blood pressure, sometimes to unhealthy levels. And both high blood pressure and some pain killers have been shown to harm your hearing.
  • 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, and if the person doesn’t understand that hearing loss is an issue or what the cause is, this is especially true.

Whether loss of hearing is increased by these situations, or those with hearing loss are more likely to have them, the negative repercussions are the same to your health.

Substance Abuse And Hearing Loss, How to Prevent it

The authors of the research recommend that doctors and emergency departments work extra hard to make sure that their communication standards are current and being implemented. It would help if doctors were on the lookout for individuals with loss of hearing, in other words. But it would also help if we as individuals were more mindful of some of the symptoms of hearing loss, too, and sought out help when we need it.

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

  • Is this medication addictive? Is there a different medication that is safer for my hearing, or do I really need this one.
  • Is this medication ototoxic? Are there alternate options?

If you are unsure of how a medicine will impact your overall health, what the dangers are and how they should be used, you shouldn’t take then home.

Additionally, if you think you have hearing loss, don’t wait to be tested. Ignoring your hearing loss for just two years can pay 26% more for your health care. Schedule a hearing test 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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