Hear Ye, Hear Ye…Until You Take NSAIDs


“Oh, I’ve been taking Advil for years. I can’t ski without it,” said Robert.

“How much Advil are we talking about?” I asked.

“You mean skiing or in general?” said Robert.

“Both,” I replied.

“Well, about 6-8 on a ski day and 2-4 or so otherwise,” said Robert.

“And how long has this been the case?” I asked.

“Oh, quite a while I guess. A few years anyway. If I don’t take the Advil before I ski, I really have a hard time getting around later that day and the next day,” replied Robert.

“And what is it that hurts?” I asked.

“Mostly my knees but sometimes my back too,” replied Robert.

You might think that Robert is unusual; that no one takes that much Advil for that long.

But over my career, I’ve met hundreds of people like Robert where Advil (or it’s equivalent) has become as commonplace as a vitamin.

The Problem of NSAIDs

By now, most people know that long term use of Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) can cause serious gastrointestinal and even kidney problems.

But what you might not know is that these drugs, with chronic use, are associated with hearing loss.

A study published in the Journal of Epidemiology showed that taking Ibuprofen (or Acetaminofen) just two or three days a week raised the risk of hearing loss by 13 percent while taking it four or five days a week raised it by 21 percent.

According to one of the researchers, Dr. Sharon G. Curhan, M.D the possible mechanism behind the hearling loss “might be that NSAIDs may reduce blood flow to the cochlea — the hearing organ — and impair its function.”

The Challenge of Joint Pain

Here’s what is really going on.

Some people hurt doing everyday things like climbing stairs or even just walking. And the drug companies pitch products like Aleve as a “safe” solution for mild to moderate joint pain.

Some of the ads include people playing tennis, jogging, hiking with the impication that without the drug all of those enjoyable things are impossible.


And that might be true but now, not only will people risk gastrointestinal and kidney damage but potentially hearing loss as well.

Yes, sometimes the use of NSAIDs is required for a short period of time (less than 90 days) which carries very low risk of any longterm problems. But beyond 90 days, the risks start to add up fast.

I’ll cover other options for joint pain in the future but in the meantime, you might enjoy the following articles: