Prolonged Use of Painkillers Linked to Hearing Loss in Women, Studies Find


Hearing loss is very much common in the United States. In fact, about two-thirds of women aging 60 and above have some degree of hearing loss, and this is being tied with the long term use of medications for pain relief.

A study led by researchers from Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women's Hospital has found that prolonged use of over the counter pain relievers is linked to increased risk of hearing loss, Harvard Gazette reported. These medications include ibuprofen or acetaminophen. This new research which was published in the American Journal of Epidemiology is an addition to the growing body of evidence that associates the use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) or acetaminophen with loss of hearing, especially when used for six years or more.

According to Medical Daily, the study found that even if high doses of aspiring have result to hearing loss, these have been less common in the past years. Gary Curhan, MD, SCD, senior author of the study, said that since hearing loss is extremely common in the US, it can have a profound impact on a person's quality of life but finding modifiable risks can help in identifying ways to reduce these risks before they even lead to hearing loss.

The study involved 54,000 women between the ages of 48 and 73 who were enrolled in the Nurses' Health Study. The researchers analyzed data on their use of aspirin, ibuprofen, and acetaminophen, where they found that longer use of these medications were linked to higher likelihood to lose hearing ability while there was no significant association found with usual dose of aspirin use.

While the study is currently limited to white women who are mostly older, further investigations will be needed with larger groups to establish stronger connection between use of pain killers and hearing loss.

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