Research Reveals a Connection Between Loss of Hearing And Substance Abuse

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

The US. is having an opioid crisis as you’re likely 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 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 from the University of Michigan, there’s a connection between those under fifty who are suffering from loss of hearing and abuse of alcohol or other substances.

Roughly 86,000 people took part in the study and it was found that the younger the person, the stronger the connection. What causes the connection to begin with, unfortunately, is still not clear.

Here’s what was found by this study:

  • People who developed hearing loss over the age of fifty were not different from their peers when it comes to substance abuse rates.
  • People who developed hearing loss under the age of fifty were at least twice as likely to misuse opioids than their peers. They were also generally more likely to misuse other things, like alcohol.
  • People who developed hearing loss when they were the ages of 35-49 were twice as likely to develop general substance abuse issues than their peers.

Solutions and Hope

Because scientists have already taken into account class and economics so those numbers are particularly shocking. We need to do something about it, though, now that we have identified a relationship. Well, that can be a problem without knowing the exact cause (remember: correlation is not causation). A couple of theories have been put forward by scientists:

  • Social solitude: It’s well established that hearing loss can lead to social isolation and cognitive decline. In situations like these, 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: It’s also true, of course, 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.
  • Lack of communication: Getting people in and out as quickly and efficiently as possible is what emergency departments are meant to do. Sometimes they are in a rush, particularly if there’s a life-threatening emergency waiting for them. In these situations, if patients aren’t able to communicate well, say they can’t hear questions or directions from the staff, they might not get correct treatment. They may not hear dosage advise or other medication directions.
  • 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 negative consequences are the same to your health.

Substance Abuse And Hearing Loss, How to Prevent it

It’s suggested by the writers of the study, that communications protocols be kept up to date by doctors and emergency departments. In other words, it would help if doctors were on the lookout for the symptoms of hearing loss in younger individuals. But it would also help if we as individuals were more aware of some of the symptoms of hearing loss, too, and sought help when we need it.

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

  • Will I get addicted to this drug? Do I really need it, or is there an alternative medicine available that is safer?
  • Will I have an ototoxic response to this drug? Are there alternate options?

If you are unsure of how a medicine will impact your general health, what the risk are and how they should be taken, you should not take then home.

Also, don’t wait to be tested if think that you might already be suffering from loss of hearing. Neglecting your hearing loss for just two years can pay 26% more for your health care. So schedule an appointment now to have your hearing tested.

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