Consuming alcohol can not only lead to liver damage, heart disease, high blood pressure, and stroke, but it can also cause hearing loss.
Drinking alcohol and your brain health
Drinking an excessive amount of alcohol can be harmful to the brain’s auditory cortex, which will affect the way your brain processes sound. The auditory nerve translates the auditory information from the noises that are heard through the cochlea, located in the inner ear to the brain where they are translated. Even if your ears are properly able to hear, your brain may not be accurately processing sound waves.
German researchers from the University of Ulm determined that abusing alcohol for a long period of time will harm the central auditory cortex, which will lengthen the time it takes for someone to process sound. In other words, you could have difficulty with hearing people who speak quickly or identifying individual voices or sounds if there is too much background noise.
How does alcohol affect hearing?
Drinking excessively produces a toxic environment in your inner ear. The inner ear has tiny hair cells that translate sound that your ears collect and turn into electronic vibrations. The inner ear then transfers them to the auditory nerve and then to the brain. The toxins that are produced in the inner ear from overconsumption of alcohol damages and destroys the hair cells, and they cannot regenerate. Since damaged hair cells are permanent, hearing loss is also permanent.
A study on young adults living in London showed that overconsumption of alcohol may lead to difficulty with comprehending low frequency noises. This syndrome is known as “cocktail deafness”. Hearing abilities would go back to normal when the participants stopped drinking. Researchers hypothesized that recurring instances of alcohol induced hearing loss could cause permanent hearing damage.
Dizziness and tinnitus
Drinking can cause imbalance issues and feelings of dizziness.
The Vestibular Disorders Association claim that alcohol changes the composition and volume of fluid in the inner ear. As a result, it can cause dizziness and imbalance in addition to loss of hearing.
Alcohol will absorb into the inner ear’s fluid and remains there, even when it is no longer present in the blood or the brain. The inner ear oversees balance, and this may cause vertigo and spatial disorientation. Tinnitus - a ringing or buzzing noise - can also occur in addition to the dizziness. Tinnitus may happen if alcohol causes the blood vessels to swell. This can then cause more blood to flow in the inner ear. This problem is not life-threatening and will go away within a few hours, but it can be bothersome.
Ask yourself if you, or a loved one, have alcohol use disorder (AUD). You may use this information to seek treatment.
Even if you do not excessively drink alcohol, reducing the amount that you consume can be beneficial to your overall health and protect the hearing that you still have.
If you think you are noticing hearing loss, or want to find out whether you do have hearing loss, please contact us at Pure Sound Hearing Aids for a free hearing test and consultation. We offer a variety of hearing aid solutions for hearing loss and tinnitus.