The US. is having an opioid crisis as you’re probably aware. Overdoses are killing more than 130 individuals each day. 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 connection between alcohol and drug abuse and people under fifty who suffer from loss of hearing.
After analyzing around 86,000 participants, they found this link is stronger the younger the person is. What causes the connection in the first place, regrettably, is still not well understood.
Here’s what this particular research found:
- 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 who developed loss of hearing 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 two times as likely to misuse opioids as their peers. They were also usually more likely to abuse other substances, like alcohol.
Solutions and Hope
Because experts have already accounted for class and economics so those numbers are especially shocking. We need to do something about it, though, now that we have recognized a connection. Remember, correlation is not causation so without understanding the exact cause, it will be difficult to directly deal with the problem. A couple of theories have been put forward by scientists:
- Lack of communication: Emergency medical departments are designed to get people in, deal with 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 situations like this, a patient might not get correct treatment because they can’t hear questions and instructions very well. They might not hear dosage information or other medication directions.
- Higher blood pressure: Of course, it’s also true, 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.
- Medications that are ototoxic: Hearing loss is known to be caused by these medications.
- Social isolation: Cognitive decline and social isolation are well known to be associated with hearing loss. In situations like these, it’s common for people to self medicate, especially if the individual in question doesn’t really understand the cause–he or she may not even realizethat hearing loss is the issue.
Whether loss of hearing is made worse by these situations, 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
The authors of the research suggest that doctors and emergency responders work extra hard to ensure that their communication methods are up to date and being implemented. Put another way, it would help if doctors were on the lookout for the indications 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.
The following question should be asked of your doctor:
- Will I get addicted to this medicine? Do I really need it, or is there an alternative medicine available that is less dangerous?
- Will I have an ototoxic reaction to this medication? What are the alternate options?
If you are unsure of how a medication will impact your overall health, what the risk are and how they should be used, you should not take then home.
Also, don’t wait to be tested if suspect that you are already suffering from hearing loss. If you ignore your hearing loss for only two years you will pay 26% more for your health care. So schedule an appointment now to have your hearing tested.