It may be fun to grab a drink with friends at The Dublin Yard during happy hour. However, doing so often can actually have an effect on your hearing. Below we review some of the research on this topic.
Drinking Can Cause Cocktail Deafness
In one study out of London, alcohol use disorder was shown to lead to problems hearing low-frequency sounds. This condition is referred to as “cocktail deafness.” Although cocktail deafness is usually temporary, the researchers hypothesize that repeated episodes of drinking can lead to permanent damage.
Alcohol Affects the Parts of the Brain that Help You Hear
Drinking excessively can also affect the auditory cortex of your brain – the part responsible for helping you process sounds. So even if you have healthy ears, you may still have trouble understanding speech if this part of your brain is damaged.
According to another study, this one out of the University of Ulm in Germany, heavy drinking over long periods can cause this type of damage. The result is increased time to process sounds, trouble understanding people who speak quickly and difficulty distinguishing one voice from another in environments with a lot of background noise.
Other Audiological Problems Associated with Alcohol
Not only is drinking alcohol associated with hearing loss, it can also cause other audiological problems, such as dizziness and tinnitus (ringing in the ears). This is because alcohol changes the volume and composition of the fluid in the inner ear, and it can cause the blood vessels in the ears to swell and produce more blood flow.
Resources for Quitting Alcohol
Consider the following questions:
- Do I ever end up drinking more or for longer than I initially intended?
- Have I ever wanted to cut down on drinking but was unable to?
- Do I spend a lot of time drinking or being affected by the aftereffects?
- Do I experience strong cravings for alcohol?
- Has my drinking ever interfered with my daily responsibilities?
- Have I ever put myself in dangerous situations while drinking?
- Have I continued drinking despite negative effects on my mood?
- Have I stopped doing activities I once loved because of my drinking?
If your answer was “yes” to any of these questions, it might be time to consider quitting alcohol. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism have resources to help.
To learn more or to schedule an appointment with a hearing expert, call Speech & Hearing Associates today.