Hearing Loss and Alcohol: Does alcohol abuse affect hearing?


We all love to have fun and a great time, and alcohol is always present at parties and entertainment metropolises. Drinking alcohol is relaxing and gives you the confidence to make new acquaintances and socialize. However, not all so simple. Along with the pleasant effects, alcohol also carries negative consequences. Excessive consumption of alcoholic beverages negatively affects our health. The consequences are truly monstrous: from heart attacks and strokes to liver cirrhosis! But few people realize that alcohol is also destructive to our hearing!

What do statistics and facts say?

Alcohol can have negative effects on many body organs and systems, including the hearing organs. Studies and statistics show that alcohol abuse can lead to hearing loss and other hearing problems, although many drinkers may not agree with it.

According to WHO research, alcohol consumption is associated with a significant risk of hearing loss. Specifically, people who consume more than 14 standard servings of alcohol per week have a higher risk of hearing loss than those who consume alcohol in moderation or not at all.

Another study conducted by the U.S. National Institutes of Health showed the following result. Excessive alcohol consumption can lead to temporary hearing loss, known as alcoholic auditory nerve neuropathy due to the toxic effects of alcohol on the nerve cells that are responsible for transmitting sound signals to the brain. Animal tests have also shown that excessive alcohol consumption can cause damage to the inner ear!

Alcohol can damage the inner ear, the thin membrane, and the sensitive receptors inside the ear. It does not go unnoticed by the person. Alcohol abuse often leads to increased sensitivity of the auditory system to noise, and prolonged noise exposure is one of the main causes of hearing problems for city dwellers! It is especially true for people who work in noisy environments or attend noisy events.

Statistics show that moderate alcohol consumption does not seriously affect hearing. But abuse can damage your hearing organs and lead to hearing loss. Therefore, if you drink alcohol, it is worth watching the amount you drink and taking steps to protect your hearing! It is also important to have regular medical check-ups and hearing tests to detect problems early on and prevent them from developing.

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“Alcohol can have a significant impact on hearing, both in the short and long term. It can cause temporary hearing loss and also increase the risk of permanent damage to the auditory system.” – Dr. De Wet Swanepoel, Ph.D., Audiologist, and Professor.

Alcohol and hearing problems

Alcohol is one of the most common substances. People often use it to relax and enjoy themselves. However, many people do not think about the effects of alcohol on their health, including their hearing. Yet alcohol abuse, especially when combined with other substances such as tobacco, can lead to serious hearing problems. Let’s take a closer look at a few of them.

Hearing loss

Hearing loss is a serious problem. It is rapidly taking over the population. Even 10-15 years ago, hearing loss was the hallmark of the elderly. But even today, many middle-aged people have this problem as well. Alcohol abuse is one of the reasons for it.

Studies show that drinking alcohol affects hearing acuity. There are several reasons for it.

  • Alcohol can cause internal inflammation in the ear, which leads to hearing loss
  • Alcoholic beverages reduce blood flow to the ear. It happens because alcohol narrows the blood vessels, reducing blood flow to the ear
  • Alcohol can impair the function of the nerve cells that are responsible for hearing
  • Alcohol consumption can also lead to temporary hearing loss due to changes in sound perception. For example, alcohol can make sounds seem louder or less clear. Read more about it above

What’s the bottom line? Different causes lead to hearing loss. And they are related to excessive alcohol consumption.

Balance disorder and tinnitus

Everyone familiar with the state of intoxication is also aware of the symptoms, including dizziness and impaired balance caused by the penetration of ethanol into the fluid. In the end, it fills the inner ear. The result is a change in its volume and composition. And since the structures of the inner ear are responsible for both hearing and maintaining the body’s position in space, both are affected.

In addition to hearing and spatial orientation problems, tinnitus can also occur with alcohol abuse. What is it related to? Ethanol dilates the blood vessels and causes a large flow of blood to the inner ear. It creates the prerequisite for phantom tinnitus. Such a condition is not a health hazard. However, it can cause considerable discomfort and significantly reduce the quality of life.

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Practical tips: How can I keep my hearing healthy while drinking alcohol?

So, we’ve already looked at how alcohol negatively affects the auditory system, especially when it is abused. However, there are some practical tips to help maintain hearing health while drinking alcohol. Audiology Island has prepared some tips to help alcohol drinkers maintain healthy hearing.

  • Moderate consumption. Do not overindulge in alcohol. Moderate alcohol consumption of no more than 1-2 standard drinks per day (for men) and no more than 1 standard drink per day (for women) does not seriously affect hearing
  • Avoid noisy places. Alcohol can increase the sensitivity of the auditory system to noise. Therefore, avoid noisy places, such as clubs or concerts. Wear headphones or earplugs if you do go to such places
  • Take breaks from drinking alcohol. It’ll give your auditory system a rest. Don’t abuse alcohol, but rather take breaks for a few days
  • Avoid consuming alcohol together with other substances, such as tobacco. Smoking, for example, can increase the risk of hearing loss and tinnitus
  • Don’t forget hearing protection. If you work in a noisy acoustic environment (public transportation, airport, construction site, etc.) or play sports with a high level of noise, use hearing protection such as earphones or earplugs
  • Good nutrition. Eating well can help keep your hearing healthy. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. Don’t forget minerals and vitamins
  • Regularly check your hearing health. Often hearing decreases gradually, and people don’t notice the first symptoms of the problem. Diagnostics help to see the problem in time so you can start treatment. And time is of the essence for effective hearing recovery

For many people, drinking alcohol is an opportunity to relax after hard work and gain strength. Alcoholic beverages are not only relaxing but also harmful to you. Therefore, try to limit their intake and follow the listed recommendations. These simple rules will help to reduce the negative effects of alcohol on your body.


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