Hearing Health Blog

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

You’re probably aware that the United States is having an opioid crisis. Overdoses are killing more than 130 people every day. But what you may not have heard yet is that there is a disturbing link between hearing loss 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 those under fifty who suffer from hearing loss and abuse of alcohol or other substances.

Approximately 86,000 people participated in the study and it was found that the younger the person, the stronger the connection. What causes the connection in the first place, regrettably, is still not well understood.

Here’s what was discovered by this study:

  • 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 were at least two times as likely to misuse opioids than their peers if they developed hearing loss when they were less than fifty. They were also usually more likely to abuse other things, like alcohol.
  • In terms of hearing loss, people over the age of fifty who developed hearing loss were not different from their peers when it comes to substance abuse.

Solutions and Hope

Because scientists have already taken into consideration class and economics so those figures are especially staggering. So, now that we’ve recognized a relationship, we need to do something about it, right? Keep in mind, causation is not correlation so without understanding the exact cause, it will be difficult to directly deal with the issue. A couple of theories have been put forward by scientists:

  • Lack of communication: Getting people in and out as quickly and efficiently as possible is what emergency departments are designed to do. Sometimes they are in a hurry, particularly if there’s a life-threatening emergency waiting for them. In these cases, if patients aren’t capable of communicating well, say they aren’t able to hear questions or instructions from the staff, they may not receive correct treatment. They may agree to recommendations of pain medication without fully listening to the risks, or they might mishear dosage directions.
  • Social isolation: It’s well established that hearing loss can lead to social isolation and cognitive decline. In these situations, 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.
  • 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.
  • Medications that are ototoxic: Hearing loss is known to be caused by these medications.

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

Substance Abuse And Hearing Loss, How to Prevent it

The authors of the study suggest that doctors and emergency departments work very hard to ensure that their communication standards are up to date and being followed. Put another way, it would help if doctors were on the lookout for the signs of hearing loss in younger people. But it would also help if we as individuals were more mindful of some of the signs of hearing loss, too, and sought out help when we need it.

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

  • Is this medication addictive? Is there an alternative medicine that is less dangerous for my hearing, or do I truly need this one.
  • Is this drug ototoxic? Are there alternatives?

Never go home from a doctors appointment with medicines unless you are completely clear on their dangers, how they should be taken and how they affect your general health.

Also, don’t wait to be tested if suspect that you are already suffering from hearing loss. If you ignore your hearing loss for only two years you will pay 26% more for your health care. Schedule a hearing examination right away.

Why wait? You don't have to live with hearing loss! Call Us