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

More than likely you are aware that the US . is facing an opioid crisis. Overdoses are killing more than 130 individuals daily. But what you might not be aware of is that there is a disturbing link between loss of hearing and drug and alcohol abuse.

According to new research published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine and conducted by a team from the University of Michigan, there’s a connection between alcohol and drug abuse and those under fifty who suffer from loss of hearing.

Roughly 86,000 people took part in the study and it was discovered that the younger the person, the stronger the connection. Regrettably, it’s still unclear what causes that link in the first place.

Here’s what this particular research found:

  • People who developed hearing loss when they were the ages of 35-49 were twice as likely to develop general substance abuse issues than their peers.
  • People were at least two times as likely to abuse opioids than their peers if they developed hearing loss when they were less than fifty. They were also generally more likely to misuse other substances, such as alcohol.
  • People who developed hearing loss over fifty were not different from their peers when it comes to substance abuse rates.

Solutions and Hope

Those numbers are shocking, particularly because scientists have already taken into account concerns like class and economics. We need to do something about it, though, now that we have identified a connection. Remember, causation is not correlation 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 experts:

  • Social isolation: It’s well established that hearing loss can lead to social isolation and cognitive decline. In these situations, 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.
  • Higher blood pressure: Of course, it’s also true, 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.
  • Medications that are ototoxic: Hearing loss is known to be caused by these medications.
  • Lack of communication: Processing as quickly and efficiently as possible is what emergency departments are designed to do. And if there is a life threatening emergency they can be in even more of a hurry than usual. In situations such as this, a patient might not get correct treatment because they can’t hear questions and instructions very well. They may agree to recommendations of pain medicine without fully listening to the risks, or they might mishear dosage directions.

Whether hearing loss is increased by these situations, or those with hearing loss are more likely to have them, the harmful repercussions to your health are the same.

Substance Abuse And Hearing Loss, How to Prevent it

It’s suggested by the authors of the study, that communications standards be kept current by doctors and emergency responders. It would help if doctors were on the lookout for individuals with hearing loss, in other words. We individuals don’t seek help when we need to and that would also be extremely helpful.

Don’t be nervous to ask questions of your doctors like:

  • Is this drug addictive? Do I actually need it, or is there an alternative medication available that is safer?
  • Will I have an ototoxic response to this drug? Are there alternate options?

If you are unsure of how a medicine will affect your general health, what the dangers are and how they should be taken, you shouldn’t leave the office with them.

In addition, if you believe you have hearing loss, don’t wait to get tested. If you ignore your hearing loss for only two years you will increase your health care costs by 26%. So schedule an appointment now to have a hearing test.

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