The US. is in the midst of an opioid crisis as you’re likely aware. More than 130 people are dying daily from an overdose. 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 conducted by a group from the University of Michigan, there’s a connection between alcohol and drug abuse and people under fifty who suffer from loss of hearing.
After analyzing approximately 86,000 participants, they found this link is stronger the younger the individual is. What causes the connection to begin with, regrettably, is still not well understood.
Here’s what this particular research found:
- People were two times as likely to develop a general substance abuse issue than their peers if they got hearing loss between the ages of 35 and 49.
- In terms of hearing loss, people above the age of fifty who developed hearing loss didn’t differ from their peers in terms of substance abuse.
- People who developed hearing loss when they were younger than fifty were at least two times as likely to misuse opioids as their peers. Other substances, like alcohol, were also inclined to be misused by this group.
Solutions and Hope
Those numbers are staggering, especially because experts have already accounted for concerns like economics and class. So, now that we’ve identified a connection, we have to do something about it, right? Keep in mind, causation is not correlation so without understanding the exact cause, it will be hard to directly deal with the issue. A couple of theories have been put forward by experts:
- Ototoxic medications: These medications are known to cause hearing loss.
- Social solitude: Cognitive decline and social isolation are well known to be associated with hearing loss. 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.
- 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 hurry than normal. In these cases, if patients aren’t capable of communicating well, say they aren’t able to hear questions or directions from the staff, they might not get correct treatment. They may not hear dosage information or other medication guidelines.
- Higher blood pressure: It’s also true, of course, That blood pressure is raised by alcohol, sometimes to levels that are unhealthy. And both some pain killers and also high blood pressure have been shown to harm your hearing.
Whether these situations increase hearing loss, or that they are more likely to happen to those with loss of hearing, the damaging consequences to your health are the same.
Substance Abuse And Hearing Loss, How to Prevent it
It’s suggested by the writers of the study, that communications standards 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. We individuals don’t get help when we need to and that would also be very helpful.
Don’t be scared to ask questions of your doctors like:
- Is this drug addictive? Do I really need it, or is there an alternative medication available that is less dangerous?
- Is this drug ototoxic? What are the alternatives?
If you are uncertain how a medicine will impact your general health, what the dangers are and how they should be used, you should not take then home.
Also, don’t wait to get tested if suspect that you are already 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 examination right away.