Hearing loss is a pretty common affliction for those getting on in years, but this doesn’t mean you have to take that news lying down. There are ways you can protect your hearing health as you age, even beyond avoiding noisy situations such as concerts and long-term noises found in clubs. Now, it’s known that you can stop taking certain medications so you can avoid hearing loss. Ibuprofen is one of those medicines that can hurt your hearing, so be careful when considering taking it.


Pain relievers such as ibuprofen restrict blood flow to the inner ear’s cochlea so that it doesn’t work as it should. Acetaminophen, especially, can damage ear structures that are there to protect the sensitive cochlea. Did you know that ibuprofen can even worsen symptoms of tinnitus, dizziness and vertigo? It’s true. You may also be surprised to know that analgesics can really do a number on the kidneys, and anything that can hurt the kidneys can also harm your ears, referred to as ototoxicity. While researchers have long known that this link existed in men thanks to previous studies, this new study in women has proven the female link. Ibuprofen can also cause fuzzy and unclear sounds in people who have cochlear implants and who take ibuprofen for pain relief. Don’t worry, though, you can better your hearing if you stop taking certain medications. Consult with your doctor to find out what’s right for your particular situation.

Conclusive Findings

Recent findings from a study posted in the American Journal of Advanced Epidemiology says over the counter pain relievers like ibuprofen and acetaminophen can cause a higher risk of hearing loss in women. About 60,000 women over a period of 14 years were followed, with researchers concluding that one quarter of those who took ibuprofen and acetaminophen several times a week reported decreases in hearing.

More Research

In addition to medication, hearing loss can be brought on by other factors too. Getting older and exposing yourself to high noise decibels can both contribute to hearing loss. To find out more, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) is studying 150,000 women across the country to determine all the factors that can contribute to hearing loss. These factors can include hormones, diet and alcohol consumption as well as ibuprofen.

What to Do

You don’t have to refrain from taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen for your pain relief needs. Just switch the type of pain killer you’re taking and try something like naproxen. This, unlike ibuprofen, is not known to bring on hearing loss. No one knows for sure why these medications don’t affect hearing loss while ibuprofen does. Be sure to get your doctor’s blessing before taking ibuprofen so you’re aware of the potential side effects regarding hearing loss. Read all labels beforehand, as ibuprofen can be found in many cold and sinus medications found over the counter in stores.

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