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Hearing Loss Before Age 50 Tied to Higher Substance Use

Associations particularly pronounced for Rx opioid use disorders in those aged 18 to 34 with hearing loss

WEDNESDAY, March 27, 2019 (HealthDay News) — Hearing loss is independently associated with substance use disorders among those aged 49 years and younger, according to a study published in the April issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

Michael M. McKee, M.D., M.P.H., from the University of Michigan Medical School in Ann Arbor, and colleagues used combined data from the 2015 and 2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (86,186 participants) to compare substance use disorders among adults with and without self-reported hearing loss.

The researchers found that hearing loss prevalence across all age groups was 5.2 percent. After adjustment for sociodemographics, among younger age groups, hearing loss was independently associated with an increased likelihood of experiencing a substance use disorder (ages 18 to 34 years: adjusted odds ratio [aOR], 1.34; ages 35 to 49 years: aOR, 1.87). Similarly, there was an association between hearing loss and an increased likelihood of a prescription opioid use disorder among those aged 18 to 34 years (aOR, 2.85). In those aged 35 to 49 years old, hearing loss increased the likelihood of both an alcohol use disorder (aOR, 1.87) and a prescription opioid use disorder (aOR, 1.99).

“Given the concern of inappropriate use of prescription opioids, this information may have implications for health care providers’ pain management for patients with hearing loss,” the authors write.

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