NSAID pain relievers such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen are the go to solutions for many aches and pains that we experience daily such as sore muscles or headaches. Research shows that we may want to start rethinking how often we take these pain relievers. A study published in American Journal of Advanced Epidemiology showed that women who took NSAID pain relievers 2 or more times a week had a higher risk of experiencing hearing loss. A similar study was conducted with men and showed the same link between NSAID use and decreased hearing loss.
As the daily use of NSAID pain relievers increases, so does the risk for decreased hearing. There were dramatic results in people who took these kinds of pain relievers 6 or 7 days a week. The study followed over 60,000 women ages 31-48 years old and their use of NSAID pain relievers for fourteen years. At the end of the fourteen year research over ten-thousand women reported decreased hearing. There was a slight difference between women who had taken Ibuprofen and acetaminophen, with acetaminophen users resulting in less reports of hearing loss. The research did not show hearing loss associated with the use of aspirin or naproxen.
So what actually causes the hearing loss? Researchers believe that NSAID pain relievers, especially ibuprofen can reduce blood flow to the cochlea or inner ear which could be what is impairing its function. It is believed that acetaminophen may be damaging structures in the ear that would normally help protect the cochlea. The link between hearing loss and NSAIDs seems to only be between ibuprofen and acetaminophen, for reasons not yet known. Does this mean you need to stop the use of NSAID pain relievers? Not necessarily, but you should be aware of the potential side effects. Regular NSAID users are encouraged to speak with a hearing care professional.
North County Audiology offers hearing loss diagnostics and treatment plans. If you are concerned about your hearing and how it could be affected by NSAID pain relievers, contact the hearing professionals at North County Audiology. We are leading hearing care professionals with top notch hearing services in the San Diego area. We look forward to helping you.