Many OTC drugs are linked to an increased risk of hearing loss

Among the side effects caused by prescription medications, only the severe ones seem to grab the public’s attention. Relatively milder adverse outcomes, such as ototoxicity, are usually ignored, no matter how common they may be. As a result, there is a considerable chance that your medicine cabinet currently contains a drug that can permanently and irreversibly damage your sense of hearing.

What’s worrisome is that the drugs noted for being ototoxic – toxic to your ears – include those that are easily obtainable. Common over-the-counter pain relievers like ibuprofen and acitaminophen (Tylenol) are two of the drugs on the list – when used two or more times in a single week, they can increase your risk of suffering from hearing loss.

The effect is caused by damage to the sensory hair cells in your inner ear. These small hairs are very sensitive and even minor damage to them can impede their ability to translate sound into nerve impulses that your brain can “hear.”

In most cases, the effect is reversible. For example, aspirin, another mainstay in many home medicine cabinets in the U.S., causes hearing loss when used more than twice a week, but the effect disappears once usage of the drug is stopped. But considering the variety of ototoxic medications there are on the market, ranging from common medications like pain relievers and antibiotics to more complex examples like chemo drugs and medication used for erectile dysfunction, it may not take long to damage them permanently because if you cause your ears enough damage it becomes irreversible.

Unfortunately, the effect comes on suddenly and without warning. You could be hearing just fine today but not tomorrow. You can take several steps to lower your risk of suffering from hearing loss, but limiting your use of – if not downright avoiding – OTC and prescription medications and opting for natural alternatives is one of the best ways to go about it. (Related: SIDE EFFECT SYNDROME – Why all prescription medications cause horrific health problems that are often worse than the condition being treated.)

Nutrients you need for your sense of hearing

Keeping up your intake of nutrients that promote optimal hearing is a good way to keep your ears healthy and functional. You will need a variety of nutrients for this purpose, but the following are four of the most significant contributors to ear health:

  • Potassium – This mineral helps regulate the concentration of fluids in your blood and other parts of your body. These include the fluid in your inner ear that allow you to “hear” sounds. Potassium keeps the levels of these fluid steady to maintain proper hearing. However, the levels of potassium in your ear can drop as you get older, leading to age-related hearing loss. By eating foods rich in potassium, such as tomatoes, potatoes, and bananas, you can maintain a healthy supply of potassium that may translate to better health for your ears.
  • Magnesium – Studies support the benefits that magnesium has on the ears. It was found that the nutrient, along with vitamins A, C, and E, protects the ears from noise-related hearing loss. A deficiency in magnesium also causes the blood vessels in the ears to shrink, resulting in a lack of valuable oxygen. Some of the best sources of magnesium are cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and cauliflower, as well as tomatoes, bananas, and spinach.
  • Zinc – This mineral boosts your immune system and helps improve your protection from germs and other common causes of disease. In this way, zinc protects your ears from damaging infections. Some studies suggest that a healthy intake of this mineral can also help prevent tinnitus. Zinc is found in nuts and dark chocolate, as well as cranberries, raisins, and oats.
  • Folic acid – This B-vitamin boosts your body’s ability to generate new cells. Low levels of it are linked to an increased risk of hearing loss, while adequate levels are known to slow down age-related hearing decline.

Take care of your ears, and all your senses, with tips from

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