Painkillers, Deafness and Arthritis

April 19, 2010


Not your usual sort of headline, but although most of us take painkillers occasionally, or regularly for chronic conditions, there are some well-established downsides such as gastric problems.

However, a new in the American Journal of Medicine alerted me to something I didn’t know, and that is that regular use of painkillers is linked to an increased risk of hearing loss. Even small amounts, such as for example taking paracetamol at least twice a week, can put you at risk of a massive 99 per cent increase in the chance of you having mild to severe deafness before the age of 50. If you regularly take ibuprofen or aspirin then that is not as high a risk, but is still a staggering 61 per cent increase over those who never take painkillers.

So that is something to think about, and particularly for those who take painkillers regularly for chronic conditions such as arthritis. If you suffer in this way you are more than likely to be prescribed non-steroidal-anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) by your doctor, and these include aspirin and ibuprofen.

If you have been taking such drugs in the belief that they will help with the pain, the evidence does not support it. One trial that looked at the long-term effects of NSAIDs versus placebo on pain showed “no significant effect of NSAIDs compared with placebo at one to four years” and over six years the British Medical Journal published a review of 23 studies that reinforced this view. They concluded that “NSAIDs can reduce short term pain in osteoarthritis of the knee slightly better than placebo, but the current analysis does not support long term use of NSAIDs for this condition. As serious adverse effects are associated with oral NSAIDs, only limited use can be recommended.”

All very well, but what can you do about the pain from arthritis? Natural alternatives such as white willow bark (the natural substance that aspirin was synthesised from) and many find acupuncture of great help in relieving long term and chronic pain. Personally I recommend you get hold of Patrick Holford’s excellent book ‘Say No To Arthritis’ for a thorough look at all the options from anti-inflammatory essential fats from oily fish to plant extracts such as boswellia, bromelain and ginger.


Article by  


What do you think of this health article by ? Join the discussion...