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

You’re probably aware that the US . is having an opioid crisis. More than 130 people are dying each day from an overdose. But what you might not be aware of is that there is a troubling link between loss of hearing and drug and alcohol abuse.

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 link between alcohol and drug abuse and those under fifty who have hearing loss.

After analyzing nearly 86,000 respondents, they found this connection is stronger the younger the individual is. What causes the link in the first place, regrettably, is still not clear.

Here’s what was discovered by this study:

  • People who developed hearing loss when they were the ages of 35 and 49 were two times as likely to develop general substance abuse problems than their peers.
  • People who developed loss of hearing over fifty did not differ from their peers in terms of substance abuse rates.
  • People who developed hearing loss under the age of fifty were at least two times as likely to abuse opioids as their peers. Other substances, like alcohol, were also more likely to be misused by this group.

Hope and Solutions

Because scientists have already taken into consideration class and economics so those figures are especially staggering. We have to do something about it, though, now that we have identified a connection. Keep in mind, causation is not correlation so without knowing the exact cause, it will be difficult to directly address the problem. A couple of theories have been put forward by scientists:

  • 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, and if the person doesn’t understand that hearing loss is an issue or what the cause is, this is especially true.
  • Lack of communication: Getting people in and out as quickly and efficiently as possible is what emergency departments are meant to do. Sometimes they are in a rush, particularly if there’s a life-threatening emergency waiting for them. In cases such as this, a patient might not get correct treatment because they can’t hear questions and directions very well. They might agree to suggestions of pain medication without completely listening to the risks, or they might mishear dosage directions.
  • Medications that are ototoxic: Hearing loss is known to be caused by these medications.
  • 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 hearing loss is increased by these incidents, or those with hearing loss are more likely to have them, the negative repercussions are the same to your health.

Substance Abuse And Hearing Loss, How to Prevent it

The authors of the study suggest that doctors and emergency responders work extra hard to ensure that their communication standards are up to date and being implemented. Put another way, it would help if doctors were on the lookout for the signs 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 such as:

  • Is this medication addictive? Do I really need it, or is there a different medication available that is safer?
  • Will I have an ototoxic response to this drug? Are there alternatives?

If you are uncertain how a medication will impact your general health, what the risk are and how they should be taken, you shouldn’t leave the office with them.

Additionally, if you suspect you have hearing loss, don’t wait to be tested. If you ignore your hearing loss for only two years you will pay 26% more for your health care. So make an appointment now to have your hearing tested.

Why wait? You don't have to live with hearing loss. Call Us Today