Women who regularly take painkillers may place themselves at increased risk of damaging their hearing. Findings of a new study have revealed that taking just two ibuprofen or paracetamol pills weekly for more than six years would be enough to cause hearing loss.

Ibuprofen, Acetaminophen And Risk Of Hearing Loss

For the new study, researchers looked at the data of more than 54,000 women who were between 48 and 73 years old. By analyzing the participants; use of aspirin, ibuprofen, and acetaminophen, as well as self-reported loss of hearing, they found that longer duration of using ibuprofen or acetaminophen was associated with increased risk of hearing loss.

The researchers, however, did not find a significant link between loss of hearing and duration of regular-dose aspirin use. People tend to use aspirin over long periods of time to reduce risk of heart attack or stroke.

Over-The-Counter Drugs May Have Unwanted Side Effects

The findings are just the latest to raise questions regarding the long-term safety of using non-prescription painkillers. Because over-the-counter drugs do not require prescription, people tend to think that they are relatively safe. The study shows this is not always the case particularly when these medications are not used as directed.

Non prescription painkillers can be relatively safe when used to provide short term relief of pain but some people take them routinely to treat recurring headaches and aches,instead of addressing the root cause of the problem. Some people even use these drugs to help them fall asleep.

Study researcher Gary Curhan, from Brigham and Women's Hospital, said that people need to be aware of the possible consequences of long term use of analgesic.

"I worry that people think NSAIDs and acetaminophen are completely safe, and that they don't need to think about their potential [side effects]," Curhan said.

Modifiable Risk Factor To Prevent Hearing Loss

In their study, which was published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, Curhan and colleagues said that use of painkillers is a modifiable risk factors that may prevent hearing loss.

"Considering the high prevalence of analgesic use and the high probability of frequent and/or prolonged exposure in women of more advanced age, our findings suggest that NSAID use and acetaminophen use may be modifiable risk factors for hearing loss," the researchers wrote in their study.

Earlier studies have shown that the drugs affect the cells in the ear as well as the blood and oxygen flow to certain parts of the organ that can compromise hearing.

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