The US. is in the midst of an opioid crisis as you’re likely aware. Overdoses are killing over 130 individuals every day. There is a connection, which you may not have heard about, between drug and alcohol abuse and hearing loss.
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 suffer from hearing loss.
Roughly 86,000 people participated in the study and it was discovered that the younger the person, the stronger the connection. Unfortunately, it’s still not well known what causes that link to begin with.
Here’s what was found by this study:
- People were twice 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 who developed hearing loss when they were younger than fifty were at least twice as likely to abuse opioids as their peers. They were also usually more likely to misuse other substances, such as alcohol.
- People who developed hearing loss over fifty were not different from their peers in terms of substance abuse rates.
Solutions and Hope
Because experts have already accounted for economics and class so those numbers are especially staggering. We need to do something about it, though, now that we have identified a connection. Remember, correlation is not causation so without knowing the exact cause, it will be hard to directly deal with the problem. A couple of theories have been put forward by experts:
- Social isolation: Cognitive decline and social isolation are well known to be associated with hearing loss. 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.
- Higher blood pressure: Of course, it’s also true, 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.
- Lack of communication: Emergency departments are designed to respond to people, deal with them, and get them out as efficiently (or, in some cases, quickly) as they can. Sometimes they are in a hurry, particularly if there’s a life-threatening emergency waiting for them. In situations such as this, a patient may not get proper treatment because they can’t hear questions and instructions properly. They might agree to recommendations of pain medicine without fully understanding the risks, or they might mishear dosage instructions.
- Medications that are ototoxic: These medications are known to cause hearing loss.
Whether these occurrences increase hearing loss, or those with loss of hearing are more likely to have them, the negative consequences are the same to your health.
Preventing Hearing Loss and Substance Abuse
It’s recommended by the writers of the study, that communications standards be kept current by doctors and emergency departments. Put another way, it would help if doctors were on the lookout for the symptoms of hearing loss in younger people. We individuals don’t get help when we should and that would also be extremely helpful.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions of your doctors such as:
- Will I become addicted to this medicine? Is there an alternative medicine that is less dangerous for my hearing, or do I truly need this one.
- Will I have an ototoxic reaction to this medication? Are there alternate options?
Never leave a doctor’s office with medicines unless you are crystal clear on their dangers, how they should be taken and how they influence your general health.
In addition, don’t wait to get tested if suspect that you might already be suffering from loss of hearing. If you ignore your hearing loss for only two years you will increase your health care expenses by 26%. Schedule a hearing exam today.