The US. is having an opioid crisis as you’re probably aware. 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 loss of hearing.
According to new research published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine and carried out by a team at the University of Michigan, there’s a link between alcohol and drug abuse and people under fifty who suffer from loss of hearing.
Roughly 86,000 individuals participated in the study and it was discovered that the younger the person, the stronger the connection. What causes the link in the first place, unfortunately, is still not well understood.
Here’s what was discovered by this research:
- People were twice as likely to develop a general substance abuse problem than their peers if they got hearing loss between the ages of 35 and 49.
- People were at least twice as likely to misuse opioids than their peers if they developed hearing loss when they were less than fifty. They were also usually more likely to abuse other substances, such as alcohol.
- When it comes to hearing loss, people older than fifty who developed hearing loss were not different from their peers in terms of substance abuse.
Solutions and Hope
Those figures are staggering, especially because scientists have already taken into account issues such as economics and class. We need to do something about it, though, now that we have recognized a connection. Keep in mind, correlation is not causation so without knowing the exact cause, it will be difficult to directly deal with the problem. Researchers did have a couple of theories:
- Social isolation: 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.
- Lack of communication: Getting people in and out 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 capable of communicating well, say they can’t hear questions or instructions from the staff, they might not get proper treatment. They may agree to suggestions of pain medication without completely understanding the concerns, 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 some pain killers and also high blood pressure have been shown to harm your hearing.
- Ototoxic medications: Hearing loss is known to be caused by these medications.
Whether these incidents increase hearing loss, or those with hearing loss are more likely to have them, the damaging consequences to your health are the same.
Preventing Hearing Loss and Substance Abuse
It’s suggested by the authors of the study, that communications standards be kept current by doctors and emergency departments. It would be helpful if doctors were on the lookout for individuals with loss of hearing, in other words. We individuals don’t seek help when we should and that would also be very helpful.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions of your doctors like:
- Is this drug addictive? Is there an alternative medicine that is less dangerous for my hearing, or do I really need this one.
- Will I have an ototoxic response to this drug? What are the alternatives?
If you are unsure of how a medicine will impact your general health, what the dangers are and how they should be taken, you shouldn’t leave the office with them.
Additionally, don’t wait to get tested if think that you might already be suffering from hearing loss. Neglecting your hearing loss for just two years can increase your health care costs by 26%. So schedule an appointment now to have your hearing tested.