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Tylenol, Other Common Painkillers Linked To Hearing Loss Risk: Study

Researchers with Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts warn that side effects of Tylenol and other common over-the-counter painkillers and anti-inflammatory drugs may include a risk of hearing loss for women. 

While the frequent use of some analgesics have been long believed to cause hearing problems, the findings of a study published earlier this month in the American Journal of Epidemiology appear to narrow down which ones are responsible; including Tylenol and other pain medications containing the same active ingredient, acetaminophen, as well as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as Advil, Motrin and Aleve.

The study looked at data on self-reported hearing loss and the use of analgesics among 55,850 women in the Nurses’ Health Study. The research comprised more than 870,000 person-years of follow-up, from 1990 through 2012.

Researchers found that women who used NSAIDs, like Aleve and Motrin, at least two times a week over a period of six years or more were 10% more likely to report hearing loss. This compared to women who used the medications for less than a year. Similarly, acetaminophen was linked to a 9% increased risk of hearing loss over the same period. However, there was no statistically significant increased risk of hearing loss associated with use of the NSAID aspirin.

“In this cohort of women, longer durations of NSAID and acetaminophen use were associated with slightly higher risks of hearing loss, but duration of aspirin use was not,” the researchers concluded. “Considering the high prevalence of analgesic use, this may be an important modifiable contributor to hearing loss.”

Tylenol Liver Failure

The study comes just weeks after another study published in the medical journal Advanced Critical Care warned that Tylenol and other acetaminophen drugs account for 46% of all cases of liver failure in the United States.

Although Tylenol and acetaminophen drugs are widely available over-the-counter and believed to be safe, the drugs have been linked to serious side effects and there is a narrow margin between the recommended daily dose and toxicity.

Previous studies have suggested that acetaminophen causes an estimated 50,000 emergency room visits each year in the U.S., including 25,000 hospitalizations and over 450 deaths annually. In addition, use of the medication has been linked to a risk of dangerous skin reactions, like Stephens-Johnson Syndrome.

In recent years, efforts have been ramped up to bring the risk of acetaminophen overdoses to the public’s attention and to reduce the amount of liver injury cases linked to the popular analgesic, which is also found in other pain killers and a number of cold medications.

Hundreds of Tylenol lawsuits are pending nationwide involving individuals who suffered liver failure after using the pain medication, alleging that Johnson & Johnson has failed to adequately warn consumers about the risks associated with acetaminophen for decades.

Cases pending throughout the federal court system are currently centralized for coordinated discovery and pretrial proceedings before U.S. District Judge Lawrence Stengel in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, as part of an MDL, or multidistrict litigation.

Each of the complaints raise similar allegations, indicating that Johnson & Johnson built a false reputation that Tylenol is a safe and effective medications by withholding important safety information about the risk of liver damage, which may have caused individuals throughout the United States to suffer severe liver failure, often resulting in death or the need for a liver transplant.

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