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

More than likely you are aware that the US . is in the midst of an opioid crisis. More than 130 people are dying each day from an overdose. There is a link, 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 connection between those under the age of fifty who suffer from loss of hearing and abuse of alcohol or other substances.

Around 86,000 individuals took part in the study and it was found that the younger the person, the stronger the connection. What causes the link in the first place, unfortunately, is still not clear.

Here’s what was found by this study:

  • Individuals who developed hearing loss between the ages of 35-49 were two times as likely to develop general substance abuse problems than their peers.
  • People were at least two times as likely to misuse opioids than their peers if they developed hearing loss when they were under the age of fifty. Other substances, such as alcohol, were also more likely to be misused by this group.
  • When it comes to hearing loss, people older than fifty who developed hearing loss didn’t differ from their peers in terms of substance abuse.

Hope and Solutions

Those numbers are shocking, especially because scientists have already accounted for issues such as class and economics. We have to do something about it, though, now that we have recognized a relationship. Keep in mind, causation is not correlation so without knowing the exact cause, it will be hard to directly address the issue. Researchers did have a couple of theories:

  • Social solitude: 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.
  • Ototoxic medications: These medications are known to cause hearing loss.
  • Lack of communication: Processing 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 these cases, if patients aren’t able to communicate well, say they aren’t able to hear questions or instructions from the staff, they may not receive proper treatment. They may agree to recommendations of pain medicine without fully listening to the risks, or they might mishear dosage instructions.
  • Higher blood pressure: It’s also true, of course, That blood pressure is raised by alcohol, sometimes to levels that are unhealthy. And both high blood pressure and some pain killers have been shown to harm your hearing.

Whether loss of hearing is made worse by these incidents, or those with hearing loss are more likely to have them, the damaging repercussions are the same to your health.

Substance Abuse And Hearing Loss, How to Prevent it

It’s recommended by the authors of the study, that communications protocols be kept current by doctors and emergency responders. In other words, it would help if doctors were on the lookout for the indications 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.

The following question should be asked of your doctor:

  • Will I become addicted to this medication? Do I actually need it, or is there an alternative medication available that is less dangerous?
  • Will I have an ototoxic reaction to this drug? What are the alternatives?

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

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