Hearing Services of Nashville

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

The US. is facing an opioid crisis as you’re probably aware. Overdoses are killing more than 130 individuals on a daily basis. But what you may not be aware of is that there is a disturbing connection 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 group at the University of Michigan, there’s a link between alcohol and drug abuse and those under fifty who have hearing loss.

After evaluating nearly 86,000 respondents, they found this connection is stronger the younger the individual is. Regrettably, it’s still unclear what causes that connection to begin with.

Here’s what this particular study found:

  • People who developed hearing loss under the age of fifty were at least twice as likely to abuse opioids than their peers. They were also usually more likely to misuse other substances, like alcohol.
  • People who developed hearing loss over the age of fifty were not different from their peers in terms of substance abuse rates.
  • Individuals who developed hearing loss when they were the ages of 35 and 49 were two times as likely to develop general substance abuse problems than their peers.

Solutions and Hope

Because experts have already taken into consideration economics and class so those numbers are particularly staggering. We have to do something about it, though, now that we have identified a connection. Remember, causation is not correlation 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 scientists:

  • Lack of communication: Processing as quickly and efficiently as possible is what emergency departments are meant to do. And if there is a life threatening emergency they can be in even more of a rush than normal. In cases like this, a patient may not get correct treatment because they can’t hear questions and instructions properly. They might not hear dosage information or other medication directions.
  • Higher blood pressure: Of course, it’s also true, that alcohol raises your blood pressure, sometimes to levels that are unhealthy. And both some pain killers and also high blood pressure 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 these situations, 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.
  • Ototoxic medications: These medications are known to cause hearing loss.

Whether these occurrences increase hearing loss, 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 study recommend that doctors and emergency departments work extra hard to ensure that their communication methods are current and being followed. It would help if doctors were on the lookout for individuals with hearing loss, in other words. We individuals don’t get help when we should and that would also be extremely helpful.

Don’t be nervous to ask questions of your doctors like:

  • Is this drug addictive? Do I actually need it, or is there an alternative medication available that is safer?
  • Is this drug ototoxic? Are there alternate options?

If you are uncertain how a medication will impact your general health, what the risk are and how they should be used, you should not take then home.

Additionally, if you suspect you have hearing loss, don’t wait to be checked. Ignoring your hearing loss for only two years can pay 26% more for your health care. So make an appointment now to have a hearing test.

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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