Women who are quick to pop a pill at the slightest hint of pain need to be careful when they think of their pack of painkillers the next time. According to a study, published in the American Journal of Epidemiology in December 2016, frequent use of painkillers including aspirin, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID), and acetaminophen may lead to hearing loss in women. A common and disabling chronic condition, hearing loss affects over 50 percent adults in the United States who develop high-frequency hearing loss by the age of 60 years, suggests the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). Although hearing loss is more prevalent in men, around one-third of women in their 50s and almost two-thirds of women in their 60s have reported hearing loss.
Use of analgesic is a common practice, with aspirin, ibuprofen and acetaminophen being the three most commonly used medication in the U.S. The NHANES III reported the use of nonprescription analgesic agents by more than 80 percent women aged 25 years or older, within the past month.
The study, titled “Duration of Analgesic Use and Risk of Hearing Loss in Women,” rings a bell for people who are still not acknowledging the harmful effects of overuse of over-the-counter (OTC) drugs.
As per a 2015 survey, 47 percent participants of the survey took OTC analgesics at least once per week in the last month. With women reporting higher prevalence, 64 percent individuals taking OTC analgesics were suffering from chronic pain, while 39.2 percent did not report any chronic pain. Paracetamol was found to be the most used drug with 38.3 percent people reportedly using it at least once per week in the last month, followed by NSAIDs (18.7 percent) and aspirin (8.1 percent).
Association between frequent use of analgesics and hearing loss
As part of the latest study, the researchers studied more than 54,000 women aged 48– 73 years. They collected data on the use of aspirin, ibuprofen and acetaminophen, and self-reported prevalence of hearing loss. The study reported an association between the use of ibuprofen or acetaminophen over a longer time and increased risk of hearing loss. However, no significant association was reported between duration of usual-dose aspirin use and hearing loss. In the view of possible association between frequent use of analgesics and hearing loss, controlling the causal activity can help decrease the prevalence of hearing loss.
A previous study, Nurses’ Health Study II (NHS II), had also analyzed the possible role of OTC analgesics in contributing to hearing loss in women. The study said, “The use of ibuprofen or acetaminophen 2 or more days per week is associated with an increased risk of hearing loss in women and that the magnitude of the risk tends to be greater with increasing frequency of use.” Further, women younger than 50 were more likely to develop hearing loss due to ibuprofen and acetaminophen use. However, the association was prevalent only for the ibuprofen category of less than six days per week use. Aspirin use was independent of the risk of hearing loss in any age group.
Health and happiness are related
Hearing loss is an important public health concern, which impairs communication and social interaction, and adversely affects productivity. Studies also link hearing loss with dementia and poor cognitive functioning, possibly due to cognitive load or reduced social engagement. It is important to stay positive to defy deficiency and enjoy the life to the fullest. The Prescription Drug Abuse Helpline of California helps people who are suffering from addiction to prescription drugs as well as other addictions. Call us at our 24/7 helpline number 855-738-2770 or chat online with our treatment advisors for seeking information on rehab centers in California.