Monday, March 15, 2010

Analgesic Use and the Risk of Hearing Loss in Men

The Last American AnalgesicImage by webmink via Flickr

From a recent study:

Hearing loss is a common sensory disorder, yet prospective data on potentially modifiable risk factors are limited. Regularly used analgesics, the most commonly used drugs in the US, may be ototoxic and contribute to hearing loss. Ototoxicity is damage to the ear (oto-), specifically the cochlea or auditory nerve and sometimes the vestibular system, by a toxin. Source.

An analgesic (also known as a painkiller) is any member of the group of drugs used to relieve pain (achieve analgesia). The word analgesic derives from Greek an- ("without") and algos ("pain"). Analgesic drugs act in various ways on the peripheral and central nervous systems; they include paracetamol (para-acetylaminophenol, also known in the US as acetaminophen), the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as the salicylates, and opioid drugs such as morphine and tramadol. Source.

Analgesic drugs include aspirin, acetaminophen (Tylenol), ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil), naproxen (Aleve, Naprosyn), the COX-2 inhibitor celecoxib, and narcotic drugs including morphine, oxycodone, and hydrocodone (Vicodin).

During 369,079 person-years of follow-up, 3488 incident cases of hearing loss were reported. Regular use of each analgesic was independently associated with an increased risk of hearing loss. Multivariate-adjusted hazard ratios of hearing loss in regular users (2+ times/week) compared with men who used the specified analgesic <2 times/week were 1.12 (95% confidence interval [CI], 1.04-1.20) for aspirin, 1.21 (95% CI, 1.11-1.33) for NSAIDs, and 1.22 (95% CI, 1.07-1.39) for acetaminophen. For NSAIDs and acetaminophen, the risk increased with longer duration of regular use. The magnitude of the association was substantially higher in younger men. For men younger than age 50 years, the hazard ratio for hearing loss was 1.33 for regular aspirin use, 1.61 for NSAIDs, and 1.99 for acetaminophen.

Regular use of aspirin, NSAIDs, or acetaminophen increases the risk of hearing loss in men, and the impact is larger on younger individuals.

Here's the link.

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