Man with ringing ears due to ibuprofen

Ibuprofen has been used to treat fevers, inflammation, and pain across the body. Administered carefully, this drug can be safe for children and adults who lead a variety of lifestyles. That said, have you thought about some of the side effects, especially with your ears?

How does ibuprofen work? 

To understand some of the effects of ibuprofen, it’s important to discuss how the drug itself works. Ibuprofen is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID), similar to aspirin. An NSAID, as the name implies, can reduce inflammation without the use of steroids, making them accessible to others at most drug stores. Its main feature is to block the enzyme cyclooxygenase from creating changes like inflammation in the body. Along with pain and inflammation relief, they can also lower fevers, making them a prime treatment option during cold and flu season.

What are some of the side effects of ibuprofen? 

As useful as ibuprofen can be for headaches and sports, there are some side effects to consider. Among these may include gastrointestinal issues like constipation, upset stomach, and diarrhea. Breathing changes, such as shortness of breath and rattled breathing, have also been considered side effects along with decreased urine.

How does ibuprofen change your hearing over time? 

NSAIDs like ibuprofen are not meant to be taken over long periods of time. In addition to the more common side effects, long-term ibuprofen use can affect your hearing in multiple ways. The drug can limit the amount of blood flow to the cochlea in the inner ear, which results in that familiar ringing sound known as tinnitus

Dr. Tyler Ellis, a CEENTA audiologist from our SouthPark and Belmont offices, goes into more detail about tinnitus symptoms. "You might think of acute tinnitus as a signal from your body that you've overdone it with ibuprofen, similar to how your ears might let you know that you've overexposed yourself to loud noise."

However, this effect is reversible. As Dr. Ellis explains, "Tinnitus associated with misuse of ibuprofen may seem to go away or become unnoticeable with time. However, continued use of ibuprofen in the same fashion may eventually result in permanent damage to the delicate structures of the inner ear and bring about a chronic tinnitus. If left unchecked, this could also lead to hearing loss.

While ibuprofen has benefits and drawbacks to consider, one thing that’s not up for debate is healthy hearing. For hearing tests, diagnosis, and treatment options, schedule an appointment with a CEENTA hearing specialist like Dr. Tyler Ellis at our SouthPark and Belmont locations today by calling 704-295-3000.

This blog is for informational purposes only. For specific medical questions, please consult your doctor. You can schedule an appointment with any of our audiologists in North and South Carolina through myCEENTAchart or by calling 704-295-3300.


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