Prolonged use of some painkillers tied to hearing loss in women


RISK of hearing loss appears to be modestly higher in women who use acetaminophen or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs – such as ibuprofen – for 6 years or more, compared with counterparts who use these painkillers for a year or less. older woman looking thoughtful Two thirds of women in the U.S. over the age of 60 report having some hearing loss.
Researchers come to this conclusion in a study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, in which they analyze the links between duration of painkiller or analgesic use and self-reported hearing loss in a large group of women in the United States.
Senior author Gary Curhan, a Harvard Medical School professor and physician in the Channing Division of Network Medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, MA, says:
“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.”
In the U.S., the use of analgesics such as aspirin and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) is significant and more widespread than 2 decades ago. In 2010, around 43 million U.S. adults (19 percent) took aspirin regularly, and more than 29 million (12.1 percent) were regular users of NSAIDs. These numbers are considerably higher, at 57 and 41 percent, respectively, than they were in 2005.
As many as two thirds of women in the U.S. over the age of 60 report some degree of hearing loss. Having previously reported a link between analgesic use and an increased risk of hearing loss in men, the researchers decided to look at women and focus on duration of painkiller use.
Findings support a growing body of evidence For their new analysis, the researchers used data on 55,850 women enrolled in the Nurses’ Health Study, one of the largest and longest running investigations into the health of U.S. women.
Fast facts about hearing loss In the U.S., an estimated 37.5 million adults (15 percent) report some trouble hearing Nearly a quarter of those aged 65-74 and half of those aged 75 and older have disabling hearing loss Men are more likely than women to report having hearing loss. Learn more about hearing loss.
They analyzed links between the women’s self-reported hearing loss and their use of ibuprofen, acetaminophen, and aspirin. The results showed that prolonged use (lasting 6 years or more) of ibuprofen and acetaminophen was linked to a slightly higher relative risk of hearing loss, at 10 percent and 9 percent, respectively, in the women.

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