Many people who take painkillers as part of self-medication assume that they have no risky side effects. Otherwise they could not be freely purchased anywhere for little money. However, in recent years there has been increasing evidence that frequent use of painkillers can lead to lasting side effects. A recent study examined the association between hearing impairment and pain medication use in more than 55,000 women over more than two decades ( http://www.nurseshealthstudy.org/ ). The main finding was that women who used non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen for more than 6 years had a 9-10% higher risk of hearing loss more than a decade later. Women who took acetylsalicylic acid (aspirin) had no associated problems with hearing loss.

If painkillers are only used occasionally as part of self-medication, they are relatively safe. However, if such painkillers are used regularly over a long period of time for chronic pain conditions, especially headaches and back pain, lasting negative consequences can occur. Recent studies have also shown that appropriate use increases the risk of cardiovascular disease, kidney problems and high blood pressure. The study leaves open the mechanism that leads to hearing loss. Other studies have shown that the drugs can have an effect on the cell metabolism of the hearing organ. The influence on blood flow and oxygen supply to the sensitive areas of the hearing organ could also lead to impaired hearing.

Brian M. Lin Sharon G. Curhan Molin Wang Roland Eavey Konstantina M. Stankovic Gary C. Curhan. Duration of Analgesic Use and Risk of Hearing Loss in Women. American Journal of Epidemiology, Volume 185, Issue 1, 1 January 2017, Pages 40–47 , https://doi.org/10.1093/aje/kww154