A new study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology has linked longtime use of over-the-counter medications for pain relief with a higher risk of hearing loss.

The study found that women who used ibuprofen or acetaminophen for six or more years were at higher risk of hearing loss, according to a recent statement.

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A team led by researchers from Brigham and Women's Hospital utilized data from the long-running Nurses' Health Study to reach these findings and examined data from more than 54,000 women between the ages of 48 and 73. The team considered participants’ information on usage of aspirin, ibuprofen and acetaminophen — in addition to self-reported hearing loss.

The study found that longtime ibuprofen or acetaminophen use was linked to a high risk of impairment. Although high doses of aspirin have been shown to result in hearing loss, such doses have become less common in the last two decades, researchers reported.

"Hearing loss is extremely common in the United States and can have a profound impact on quality of life," said senior author Gary Curhan, MD, SCD, according to the statement. "Finding modifiable risk factors could help us identify ways to lower risk before hearing loss begins and slow progression in those with hearing loss,” he added.

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As many as two-thirds of women over the age of 60 in the U.S. have some degree of hearing loss, according to the statement.

Source: Lin BM, Curhan SG, Wang M, Eavey R, Curhan CG, et al. Duration of Analgesic Use and Risk of Hearing Loss in Women. American Journal of Epidemiology. 2016.

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