How Alcohol Causes Hearing Loss


If you abuse or, in fact, drink alcohol even just a little bit too much on a regular basis, don’t be surprised when health complications arrive at your footstep. Alcohol is a known contributor to many chronic illnesses and it can often lead to formation of heart disease, blood pressure, and also stroke. What may not be known to a lot of people is the fact that too much alcohol use can also lead to a loss of hearing. Let us take a closer look at exactly how that happens. 

Alcohol Use and How It Affects Brain Health

If you are the sort of person who drinks excessively, then you will be much more at risk of causing damage to the auditory cortex that you have in your brain. This will really have a massive effect on how you perceive sound. This particular nerve is mainly responsible for transferring the sounds that we pick up with the cochlea of our inner ears to the brain where it will then be translated. What this means in essence is that even though the ears may be able to function completely normally, the brain might not be able to process the sounds it receives in a proper way. 

There have numerous studies conducted on the matter and the results are pretty much conclusive. If you are a heavy drinker, then you will, over time, damage your central auditory cortex. This means that it will take a lot more time to process the sounds that you pick up from your environment. One of the problems that this may cause is that you will not be able to make sense of conversations in which the other parties are speaking softly or too quickly. You will also find it hard to distinguish between different types of sound and you may pay a lot more attention to background noises than what is actually important. 

How Alcohol Affects Hearing

When you drink excessively over long periods of time, it will create a type of toxic environment within your ears. This part of the ear, the inner ear, has many hair cells that are tiny and whose job it is to make sense of the sounds that you take in from your environment. It is responsible for converting these sounds into electrical impulses that the inner ear then sends to the brain using the auditory nerve. Effects of alcohol on the ears can be very serious because of this. If you are a heavy drinker, be prepared to pay the price as heavy drinking can destroy those particular hair cells. The worrying part is that these hair cells do not grow back. As the damage is permanent, the resulting loss of hearing will also be permanent. 

There was a study conducted in London where the researchers looked at alcohol use and its effects on young adults. They found that prolonged consumption of alcohol led to a lot of problems with regards to being able to process lower registry sounds. There is even a name for this type of condition which is, “cocktail deafness.” It was noticed that once the participants stopped their drinking habits, their hearing did go back to normal. However, the researchers were able to theorize that if someone does this on a regular basis, it may well lead to permanent loss of hearing. 

Issues with Tinnitus and Dizziness

If you have ever had a night out where you drank particularly too much, you will know the feeling firsthand that drinking causes. You will no doubt be familiar with the problems heavy drinking causes with regards to your balance and that feeling of dizziness. 

There has also been a lot of research conducted on this particular matter and the researchers found that alcohol has the ability to change both the volume and the composition of the fluids that we have in our inner ear. This can easily lead to a feeling of dizziness and also imbalance. It can also lead to hearing loss. 

Alcohol gets absorbed into the fluids of the inner part of the ear and then it stays there, even after the alcohol has been filtered out from the blood and also the brain. Owing to the fact that the inner ears monitor balance, it really has the potential to cause vertigo and also spatial disorientation. This is the main reason as to why people experience dizziness after they have had a heavy night of drinking. 

And if that is not enough to scare you, know that the dizziness you experience after a night out of heavy drinking can also be accompanied by a case of tinnitus. This is a sort of ringing in the ears

You really ought to quit

So, you may be wondering to yourself, exactly how much alcohol is too much alcohol? A person can be diagnosed to have alcohol use disorder if they have any of the symptoms we have mentioned above. 

Another very important thing to point out is that experts think that excessive drinking can affect more than just the person indulging. Experts believe that about 4 other people are also affected by a single person abusing alcohol or drugs. This is the main reason why a lot of the treatment programs involve the family of the patient as well. 

If you want to get help for your alcohol issues, there are a ton of resources that you can make use of. The National Institutes of Health has a lot of solutions listed on their page. Also, even if you do not really abuse alcohol, cutting down on your drinking habits can do you a world of good.