Find out how a tipple can topple your hearing

Question: Which substance lowers inhibitions and hearing capacity?Answer: Alcohol.

Researchers from the South London Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust and Flinders University in Adelaide are calling for a coordinated global approach to binge drinking after finding it is rampant among Baby Boomers. Statistics suggest that the number of people over 50 receiving drug and alcohol treatment will treble in the United States and double in Europe by 2020.

Excessive alcohol consumption is well known to increase a person’s chances of developing cancer, pancreatitis and liver disease. And, more visibly, it can lead to weight gain. If you’re trying to curb your intake, here’s some more incentive to sustain your efforts;

Drinking can increase your risk of hearing loss or at the very least lead to tinnitus, that constant ringing noise that only you can hear.

Bit of a killjoy, aren’t I? But the research doesn’t lie! Apparently, you’re at risk if you’re a moderate drinker or a binge drinker.

How does alcohol impact hearing?

Researchers believe that drinking a lot of alcohol over a long period of time can damage your brain’s central auditory cortex – where speech sounds are processed. The damage adds up so moderate drinkers are thought to be at risk too.

Alcoholics risk ear function
Excessive alcohol consumption can permanently hurt the little hairs that line the innermost part of your ear, the part that transforms sound stimuli into meaningful information in your brain and also controls balance.

Drinking can make your ears ring
The medical term for this sensation is ‘tinnitus’. To summarise the studies, alcohol has the potential to cause ringing because it increases blood flow to the inner ear. This condition can resolve itself in a few hours but study shows that regular binge drinking can lead to permanent tinnitus.

The indirect impact of alcohol on your hearing
The more you drink, the softer you think you’re talking. Naturally, you start talking louder. In a social setting like a party or pub that might mean you and the alcohol-affected individuals around you eventually start yelling, especially when there’s music present. It’s not hard to see how a venue’s levels can get dangerously-loud.

So, what do you think of that? Is hearing loss reason enough for you to cut back on alcohol? I’d love to hear from you!

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