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

You’re probably aware that the United States is in the midst of an opioid crisis. Over 130 people are dying daily from an overdose. There is a connection, which you may not be aware of, 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 at the University of Michigan, there’s a connection between alcohol and drug abuse and people under fifty who suffer from hearing loss.

Around 86,000 individuals took part in the study and it was found that the younger the person, the stronger the connection. Regrettably, it’s still not well known what causes that link to begin with.

Here’s what was discovered by this research:

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

Solutions and Hope

Those numbers are shocking, particularly because researchers have already taken into account concerns such as class and economics. So, now that we’ve identified a relationship, we need to do something about it, right? Well, that can be difficult without knowing the exact cause (remember: causation is not correlation). A couple of theories have been put forward by researchers:

  • Lack of communication: Emergency medical departments are designed to respond to people, treat them, and process them as efficiently (or, in some cases, quickly) as possible. Sometimes they are in a rush, particularly if there’s a life-threatening emergency waiting for them. In these situations, if patients aren’t capable of communicating very well, say they can’t hear questions or instructions from the staff, they might not get proper treatment. They may not hear dosage information or other medication directions.
  • Medications that are ototoxic: These medications are known to cause hearing loss.
  • Social isolation: Cognitive decline and social isolation are well known to be associated with hearing loss. In these situations, 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: Of course, it’s also true, 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.

Whether loss of hearing is increased by these situations, or those with hearing loss are more likely to have them, the harmful 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 standards be kept up to date by doctors and emergency departments. It would help if doctors were on the lookout for individuals with loss of hearing, in other words. But it would also help if we as individuals were more aware of some of the symptoms of hearing loss, too, and sought out help when we need it.

The following question should be asked of your doctor:

  • Will I get addicted to this medicine? Is there an alternative medication that is safer for my hearing, or do I really need this one.
  • Is this drug ototoxic? What are the alternatives?

If you are uncertain how a medication will impact your general health, what the risk 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 hearing loss. Ignoring your hearing loss for only two years can pay 26% more for your health care. So make an appointment now to have your hearing tested.