Women who used ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) or acetaminophen (Tylenol) for six year or more were more likely to suffer hearing loss than those who used the pain relievers for a year or less, said researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.
They found no significant association between long-term aspirin use and hearing loss.
“Although the magnitude of higher risk of hearing loss with analgesic use was modest, given how commonly these medications are used, even a small increase in risk could have important health implications,” study senior author Dr. Gary Curhan said in a hospital news release.
For the study, Curhan’s team analyzed data from more than 54,000 women, ages 48 to 73, in the Nurses’ Health Study.
Longer use of ibuprofen or acetaminophen was associated with potentially higher risk of impaired hearing.
The researchers noted that most of the women in the study were older and white. They said larger studies that include other groups of people are needed to learn more about the possible link between pain relievers and hearing loss.
The research team previously found that higher use of acetaminophen and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) was associated with increased risk of hearing loss in men and younger women.
“Hearing loss is extremely common in the United States and can have a profound impact on quality of life,” Curhan said. “Finding modifiable risk factors could help us identify ways to lower risk before hearing loss begins and slow progression in those with hearing loss.”
The study results were published Dec. 14 in the American Journal of Epidemiology.
I find it amazing that short-term use of these pain relievers was considered a year or less. Research on NSAIDS indicates they are effective in reducing inflammation for up to 72 hours. With prolonged use, they block the body’s anti-inflammatory pathways as well, negating any benefit and creating life-threating side effects.
Clinically, I much prefer fish oil, flax seed oil, black current seed oil, Turmeric, or sesame seed oil to reduce prostaglandin inflammation commonly associated with musculoskeletal pain. Forty percent of the time, the patient exhibits leukotriene inflammation and none of these products will be effective. I such cases ginger is my first choice followed by Boswellia.
However, if a patient is in serious pain I will recommend up to three days use of an NSAID to allow time for the more natural product to support the body’s own anti-inflammatory pathways. A vast majority of my patients prefer to avoid the OTC drugs.
Hearing loss is a neurological event. The acoustic nerve is a direct link to the central nervous system. I suspect that researchers will find the use of these drugs is linked to Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, MS and a host of other neurological disorders.
The Bottom Line:
This is another study casting doubt on the indiscriminate use of OTC pain relievers. Just take some fish oil every day and use some virgin olive oil on your salads and you’ll keep those inflammatory pathways in check.
Source: December 19, 2016 National Institutes of Health