The US. is having an opioid crisis as you’re likely aware. Overdoses are killing over 130 people daily. There is a link, which you might 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 group from the University of Michigan, there’s a connection between alcohol and drug abuse and those under fifty who have loss of hearing.
After analyzing around 86,000 participants, they found this connection is stronger the younger the person is. Regrettably, it’s still not well known what causes that connection to begin with.
Here’s what this specific study found:
- People who developed hearing loss when they were younger than fifty were at least twice as likely to misuse opioids than their peers. Other things, like alcohol, were also more likely to be misused by this group.
- Individuals who developed hearing loss when they were the ages of 35-49 were twice as likely to develop general substance abuse problems than their peers.
- In terms of hearing loss, people above the age of fifty who developed hearing loss were not different from their peers when it comes to substance abuse.
Hope and Solutions
Those numbers are staggering, particularly because researchers have already accounted for concerns such as class and economics. So, now that we’ve recognized a relationship, we need to do something about it, right? Remember, correlation is not causation so without understanding the exact cause, it will be difficult to directly address 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 rush, particularly if there’s a life-threatening emergency waiting for them. In situations like this, a patient may not get correct treatment because they can’t hear questions and directions properly. They might not hear dosage information or other medication instructions.
- Higher blood pressure: It’s also true, of course, That blood pressure is raised by alcohol, sometimes to unhealthy levels. And both some pain killers and also high blood pressure have been shown to harm your hearing.
- 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, and if the person doesn’t understand that hearing loss is an issue or what the cause is, this is especially true.
- Medications that are ototoxic: Hearing loss is known to be caused by these medications.
Whether these occurrences increase hearing loss, or those with loss of hearing are more likely to have them, the negative consequences to your health are the same.
Substance Abuse And Hearing Loss, How to Prevent it
The authors of the research recommend that doctors and emergency responders work very hard to make sure that their communication protocols are up to date and being followed. In other words, 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 symptoms of hearing loss, too, and sought help when we need it.
The following question need to be asked of your doctor:
- Will I become addicted to this medicine? Do I actually need it, or is there a different medicine available that is safer?
- Will I have an ototoxic reaction to this medication? Are there alternate options?
Never go home from a doctors appointment with medications unless you are crystal clear on their risks, what the dosage schedule is and how they affect your general health.
In addition, don’t wait to be tested if think that you are already suffering from hearing loss. If you ignore your hearing loss for only two years you will increase your health care expenses by 26%. So make an appointment now to have your hearing tested.