Dry January, Alcohol and Hearing Loss

You ate and drank too much over Christmas, so you start the New Year with a health kick. You’re back at the gym, you’ve cut down on the calories and you’re sticking to your 5-a-Day but did you know giving up the alcohol could also help your hearing?

That innocent drink after a long day at work might not seem like much, especially when you’re dieting and exercising but there is a link between alcohol and hearing loss. Thousands of people all over the UK have started their New Year by signing up to Dry January but can it help?

dry january

Photo from Dry January

What is Dry January?

Dry January is a campaign by Alcohol Concern, urging people to give up alcohol for 31 days and raise awareness of the risks over-indulging can bring. It’s also turned into a fundraising effort to help those affected by alcohol harm.

Some of the obvious benefits for those signing up for Dry January include losing weight, feeling more energised, having better looking skin and saving money. One of the benefits not talked about is how it can help your hearing.

Alcohol and Hearing Loss – How Does It Happen?

Have you ever noticed a difference in your hearing after a night out? Most people put it down to the loud music in the many pubs and clubs, but alcohol also deserves some of the blame.

Everyone is aware of the main risks associated with drinking too much but it can actually cause temporary or permanent hearing damage. There are two ways this can happen:

1) Damage to the ears

While alcohol doesn’t cause any obvious damage to the outer ear, it can cause damage to the inner ear. Within the cochlea are delicate hair cells that covert the vibrations and waves into signals for the brain to decode as what you’re hearing.

Excessive alcohol consumption can damage or kill these delicate hairs, impairing your ability to hear. If you only damage the hair cells, hearing loss is temporary but if a hair cell dies, it will never grow back resulting in more long-term damage.

inside the human ear

2) Damage to the central auditory system

Once the cochlea has translated the vibrations into nerves signals, it is passed to brain for decoding via the auditory nerve.

Once again, excessive alcohol consumption over a long period can damage the auditory nerve, making it hard to carry signals to the brain for decoding.

More Science Behind Alcohol and Hearing Loss

Awareness of links between alcohol and hearing loss is still in its infancy. More studies and research is showing a direct correlation between moderate to severe drinking and hearing loss. This study found that it specifically affects blunts the lower end of our hearing range, which is the most crucial frequency for understanding and decoding speech. In their tests, over 90% of their volunteers had raised thresholds of frequencies their hearing could detect.

Those extra drinks you had over Christmas could have already caused minor damage. So, cutting down on the alcohol could really help your hearing by giving it chance to recover. It’s the perfect time to start with Dry January.

Mocktails for Dry January

Image Courtesy of Dry January

Dry January – How to Get Involved

Even though we’re already part way through January, there’s nothing stopping you from signing up to Dry January now. You’ll be helping yourself and others, so you can start the New Year feeling pretty good about yourself. Go on, you can do it. Giving up alcohol for one month can’t be that hard can it?

If you’re really desperate for a relaxing drink after a long day’s work, try these delicious Mocktail recipes.

The Noise Doctor

The Noise Doctor

When I'm not saving the Earth from the Decibels, I'm raising noise awareness issues with Cirrus Research plc
The Noise Doctor

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