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

The United States is facing an opioid crisis as you’re probably aware. More than 130 people are dying each day from an overdose. But what you may not be aware of 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 carried out by a group at the University of Michigan, there’s a link between alcohol and drug abuse and those under fifty who have loss of hearing.

After analyzing roughly 86,000 respondents, they found this connection is stronger the younger the person is. What causes the connection to begin with, regrettably, is still not clear.

Here’s what was discovered by this study:

  • Individuals who developed hearing loss between the ages of 35 and 49 were twice as likely to develop general substance abuse problems than their peers.
  • People were at least two times as likely to misuse opioids than their peers if they developed hearing loss when they were under the age of fifty. Other things, such as alcohol, were also inclined to be abused by this group.
  • People who developed hearing loss over the age of fifty did not differ from their peers when it comes to substance abuse rates.

Solutions and Hope

Because experts have already accounted for economics and class so those figures are particularly shocking. We have to do something about it, though, now that we have recognized a relationship. Well, that can be a problem without understanding the exact cause (remember: correlation is not causation). A couple of theories have been put forward by researchers:

  • Medications that are ototoxic: Hearing loss is known to be caused by these medications.
  • Social isolation: 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.
  • Lack of communication: Emergency departments are designed to respond to people, treat them, and get them out as efficiently (or, in many cases, quickly) as they can. And if there is a life threatening emergency they can be in even more of a hurry than usual. In these cases, if patients aren’t able to communicate well, say they can’t hear questions or instructions from the staff, they may not get proper treatment. They may not hear dosage information or other medication instructions.
  • 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.

Whether these situations increase hearing loss, or that they are more likely to occur to those with hearing loss, the negative repercussions to your health are the same.

Substance Abuse And Hearing Loss, How to Prevent it

The authors of the study recommend that doctors and emergency responders work very hard to make sure that their communication protocols are current and being implemented. In other words, it would help if doctors were on the lookout for the symptoms of hearing loss in younger individuals. We individuals don’t seek help when we need to and that would also be extremely helpful.

The following question need to be asked of your doctor:

  • Will I become addicted to this medicine? Is there an alternative medication that is less dangerous for my hearing, or do I really need this one.
  • Will I have an ototoxic reaction to this drug? Are there alternatives?

Never go home from a doctors appointment with medications unless you are completely clear on their risks, how they should be taken and how they influence your overall health.

In addition, if you think you have hearing loss, don’t wait to get tested. Ignoring your hearing loss for only two years can increase your health care expenses by 26%. 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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