You know when you’ve been drinking and it seems as though everyone gradually speaks louder and louder? I always thought that it is because their inhibitions are floating away with the wind, but
some studies have suggested that perhaps drinking can illicit temporary hearing loss in individuals. In fact, studies have shown that excessive drinking may even be associated with irreversible hearing loss.
A new study in published in the journal Alcohol looked at the effect of alcohol consumption on hearing loss in women, for both total alcohol consumption and individual alcohol types.
Over 65,000 women between the ages of 27 and 44 were included in this study.
Alcohol consumption habits were ascertained using self-reported questionnaires every 4 years between 1991 and 2009. Hearing loss was also determined using self-reported questionnaires.
- There was no significant association between total alcohol consumption and hearing loss.
- There was an increased risk of hearing loss after drinking 5 or more servings of beer per week, compared with drinking less than one beer per week.
- There was a decreased risk of hearing loss after drinking 5 or more servings of wine per week, compared with drinking less than one serving of wine per week.
- There was no association between hearing loss and consumption of liquor.
- Lifestyle characteristics were similar between beer, wine, and liquor drinkers.
The results of this study suggest that drinking 5+ glasses of wine per week (the “+” was not specified) might reduce the risk of hearing loss in women. Conversely, drinking 5+ beers per week had the opposite effect, increasing the risk of hearing loss in women. Liquor consumption had no effect on hearing loss.
As a whole, total alcohol consumption (beer, wine and liquor) did not affect hearing loss in women in any way. This makes sense, because the increased risk of hearing loss after drinking beer essentially “cancels out” the decreased risk of hearing loss after drinking wine.
More research should be done on this, as it’s not clear how beer could increase risk and wine could decrease risk of hearing loss in women. It could be a function of something in the beverages themselves, or there could be some external factor related to the different groups of women that is at play.
Research using actual medical diagnosis related to hearing loss instead of self-reported questionnaires may provide differing, and potentially more accurate results.
Curhan, S.G., Eavey, R., Wang, M., Stampfer, M.J., and Curhan, G.C. 2015. Prospective study of alcohol consumption and self-reported hearing loss in women. Alcohol 49: 71-77.