Do you recall the old tale about Johnny Appleseed? In elementary school, you may have been taught that he traveled across the US, bringing the gift of nourishing apples to every community he visited (you should eat apples because they are a healthy choice and that’s the moral of the story).
That’s only somewhat true. The real Johnny Appleseed (whose real name was John Chapman) did indeed introduce apples to lots of states across the country around the end of the 19th century. But apples weren’t as tasty and sweet as they are now. In truth, they were mostly only used for one thing: producing hard cider.
Yup, every neighborhood that Johnny Appleseed paid a visit to received the gift of booze.
Humans have a complex relationship with alcohol. It isn’t good for your health to start with (and not only in the long run, many of these health impacts can be felt right away when you spend the early morning hours dizzy, throwing up, or passed out). But many individuals like to get a buzz.
This behavior goes back into the early mists of time. Since humans have been recording history, people have been indulging in alcohol. But it could be possible that your hearing issues are being exacerbated by drinking alcohol.
In other words, it’s not only the loud music at the bar that can cause hearing troubles. It’s also the drinks.
Tinnitus can be caused by alcohol
The fact that alcohol triggers tinnitus is something that hearing specialists will usually verify. That isn’t really that difficult to believe. You’ve probably experienced “the spins” if you’ve ever drank too much. When you’re dizzy and the room seems like it’s spinning after drinking this is what’s called “the spins”.
When alcohol interferes with your inner ear, which is the part of your body in control of balance, you may experience the”spins”.
And what other role does your inner ear play a part in? Obviously, your ability to hear. So if alcohol can produce the spins, it isn’t hard to believe that it can also produce ringing or buzzing in your ears.
That’s because alcohol is an ototoxic substance
The word ototoxic might sound scary, but it simply indicates something that can be damaging to your hearing. The whole auditory system from your ears to your brain is involved in this.
There are several ways that this plays out in practice:
- Alcohol can reduce flow of blood to your inner ear. The deficiency of blood flow can itself be a source of damage.
- Alcohol can impact the neurotransmitters in your brain that are responsible for hearing. This means that, while the alcohol is in your system, your brain isn’t functioning correctly (both decision making centers, and hearing centers are affected).
- Alcohol can damage the stereocilia in your ears (these delicate hairs in your ears transmit vibrational information to your brain for additional processing). These delicate hairs will never heal or grow back once they have been compromised.
Drinking-related hearing loss & tinnitus aren’t necessarily long-term
You might begin to detect some symptoms when you’re out on the town having a few drinks with friends.
The good news is that these symptoms (when they are related to alcohol intake) are normally temporary. As your body chemistry returns to normal, you’ll most likely begin to recover some of your hearing and your tinnitus will decline.
But the longer you have alcohol in your system, the longer your symptoms will last. And if this kind of damage is repeated consistently, it may become irreversible. So if you drink too much too frequently, permanent damage could possibly happen.
Some other things are occurring too
Of course, it’s more than just the liquor. There are a couple of other factors that make the bar scene somewhat more unfriendly to your ears.
- Alcohol causes other problems: Even if you put the hearing loss element aside, drinking is pretty bad for your health. Diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and high blood pressure can be the outcome of alcohol abuse. And more severe tinnitus symptoms as well as life threatening health concerns could be the result.
- Noise: The first is that bars tend to be, well, noisy. That’s part of their… uh… charm? But when you’re 40 or older it can be a bit too much. There’s loud music, loud people, and lots of laughing. All of that noisiness can, over the years, cause damage to your hearing.
The point is, there are serious hazards to your health and your hearing in these late night bar trips.
So should you stop drinking?
Of course, we’re not saying that drinking alone in a quiet room is the solution here. The underlying issue is the alcohol itself. So if you’re having difficulty moderating your drinking, you could be creating significant issues for yourself, and for your hearing. You should consult your physician about how you can get treatment, and start on the road to being healthy again.
If you’ve detected a loud ringing in your ears after heavy drinking, schedule an appointment with us for a consultation.