Do you recall the old tale about Johnny Appleseed? In elementary school, you may have been taught that he migrated across the US, bringing the gift of nourishing apples to every community he paid a visit to (the moral of the story is that apples are healthy, and you should eat them).
That’s only somewhat true. Around the end of the 19th century, Johnny Appleseed (John Chapman was his birth name) did in fact present apples to many parts of the United States. But apples were really different way back then. They weren’t as sweet or delicious. In fact, they were generally only utilized for one thing: making hard cider.
Yup, every community that Johnny Appleseed visited was gifted with booze.
Alcohol and humans can have a complex relationship. It isn’t good for your health to start with (and not just in the long run, many of these health impacts can be felt right away when you spend the early morning hours dizzy, nauseous, or passed out). But many people like to get a buzz.
This habit goes back into the early mists of time. Since humans have been recording history, people have been enjoying alcohol. But if you have hearing issues, including tinnitus, it’s possible that your alcohol consumption could be generating or exacerbating your symptoms.
Put simply, it’s not only the loud music at the bar that’s bad for your hearing. It’s also the drinks.
Tinnitus can be caused by alcohol
The fact that alcohol triggers tinnitus is something that hearing specialists will typically confirm. That’s not really that hard to accept. If you’ve ever partaken of a bit too much, you might have encountered something called “the spins”. When you’re dizzy and the room seems like it’s spinning after drinking this is what’s called “the spins”.
When alcohol disturbs your inner ear, which is the part of your body in control of balance, you may experience the”spins”.
And what else is your inner ear used for? Hearing, of course! Which means that if you’ve experienced the spins, it’s not surprising that you might have also experienced a buzzing or ringing in your ears that are characteristic of tinnitus.
That’s because alcohol is an ototoxic substance
The word ototoxic may sound intimidating, but it just indicates something that can be harmful to your hearing. The entire auditory system from your ears to your brain is included in this.
There are several ways that this occurs in practice:
- The stereocilia in your ears can be compromised by alcohol (these are little hairs that let you sense vibrations in the air, vibrations that your brain later translates into sound). Once those delicate hairs are compromised, there’s no coming back.
- The blood flow in your ear can also be decreased by alcohol. This in itself can become a source of damage (most regions of your body don’t really enjoy being starved of blood).
- There are neurotransmitters in your brain that handle hearing which can be damaged by alcohol. This means that, while the alcohol is in your system, your brain isn’t functioning correctly (clearly, decision-making centers are impacted; but so, too, are the portions of your brain responsible for hearing).
Tinnitus and hearing loss caused by drinking are usually temporary
So if you’re out for a night on the town or having some drinks with some friends, you might notice yourself developing some symptoms.
The good news is that these symptoms (when they are caused by alcohol intake) are usually short-term. Your tinnitus will typically go away along with most of your hearing loss when your body chemistry returns to normal.
Naturally, the longer alcohol is in your system, the longer it will take your ears to go back to normal. And if this kind of damage is repeated consistently, it could become permanent. So if you drink too much too frequently, permanent damage could possibly occur.
Here are some other things that are happening
It’s not just the alcohol, however. The bar scene is not favorable for your ears for other reasons also.
- Alcohol causes other problems: Drinking is also bad for other aspects of your health. Diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and high blood pressure can be the result of alcohol abuse. And more extreme tinnitus symptoms as well as life threatening health concerns could be the outcome.
- Noise: The first is that bars are usually, well, loud. That’s part of their… uh… charm? But when you’re 40 or older it can be a little bit too much. There’s much fun and merriment, people talking, and loud music. Your hearing can be compromised over time by this.
The point is, there are serious hazards to your health and your hearing in these late night bar trips.
So should you stop drinking?
Naturally, sitting in a quiet room and drinking by yourself is not at all what we’re advocating. The underlying problem is the alcohol itself. So if you’re having trouble moderating your alcohol intake, you could be creating major problems for yourself, and for your hearing. Your doctor can help you move towards living a healthier life with the right treatment.
If you’ve detected a loud ringing in your ears after heavy drinking, schedule an appointment with us for a consultation.
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The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive a personalized free hearing test and hearing loss consultation, call today to set up an appointment.