December 16, 2016

Hearing Loss May be Caused by OTC Pain Killers

The New York Times published a story on 12/14/16 describing research suggesting increased risk of hearing loss with increased intake of tylenol and NSAIDS (i.e., ibuprofen) on a prolonged regular basis. The risk was relatively modest, but present.

The association of hearing loss with such pain reliever medications is actually not new news as there have been research papers documenting this phenomenon over the past decade. [link]

Although the current paper reported aspirin was not associated with hearing loss in women, other papers did find this connection to be present ONLY in men.

Indeed, regular over-the-counter pain killers may in fact be mildly ototoxic and such overuse be avoided if possible and would not adversely affect health in other more important aspects (ie, especially in the absence of heart or vascular disease for which daily aspirin is often recommended).

Just goes to show you that too much of any medication is harmful.

Not only does tylenol lead to hearing loss, but it can also cause liver failure and accounts for 400 deaths in the US every year. [more info]

Ibuprofen is even worse leading to bleeding problems and 15,000 to 20,000 deaths in the US every year. [more info]

Duration of Analgesic Use and Risk of Hearing Loss in Women. Am J Epidemiol (2016) 1-8. DOI: Published: 14 December 2016

Analgesic Use and the Risk of Hearing Loss in Women. Am J Epidemiol. 2012 Sep 15;176(6):544-54. Epub 2012 Aug 29. [full text]

Analgesic use and the risk of hearing loss in men. Am J Med. 2010 Mar;123(3):231-7. doi: 10.1016/j.amjmed.2009.08.006. [full text]

Fauquier blog
Fauquier ENT

Dr. Christopher Chang is a private practice otolaryngology, head & neck surgeon specializing in the treatment of problems related to the ear, nose, and throat. Located in Warrenton, VA about 45 minutes west of Washington DC, he also provides inhalant allergy testing/treatment, hearing tests, and dispenses hearing aids.

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