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'Cocktail Deafness' Study Shows Its the Real Deal

Whether youre attending a party with friends or having a pop at the local tavern, you've no doubt noticed that sound levels increase as the evening wears on. As patrons consume more and more of their favorite brews, volume levels increase to the threshold of pain especially when the band gets up to do its final set.

We've all experienced this and, if you've ever partied hearty back in the day, you've probably been a part of the increasing cacophony of party good times. So, we've experienced the phenomenon. Now, researchers at the University College of London Hospitals have issued a report that clearly demonstrates a correlation between alcohol consumption and the ability to hear. The more you drink, the less you hear. It's not just your imagination.

Clinical Study Connects Alcohol Consumption with Hearing Loss

Researchers gathered 30 adult volunteers between the ages of 20 and 40. They tested each test subjects hearing to establish baseline readings. Then, the volunteers got down to the serious business of enjoying their favorite cocktails.

The report, written by Tahwinder Upile, revealed some interesting findings, the most consequential was that, indeed, hearing is impaired by the consumption of alcohol.

Older test subjects experienced greater hearing loss the more they consumed. Younger test subjects experienced hearing loss but not to the same extent. Another important finding hearing in the lower frequency ranges was more impaired than higher frequency hearing.

The study didnt produce any conclusive findings on why alcohol has this negative impact on hearing. Some researchers believe that alcohol actually impairs the auditory nerve. Others believe that alcohol consumption impairs the brains ability to process sound. Hey, it impairs the ability to think clearly (assuming some over-indulgence). It impairs balance. Why should we be surprised that having a few beers lessens our ability to hear?

The report did reveal a couple of pieces of good news. First, the hearing loss among test subjects was temporary and hearing returned to normal as soon as that throbbing headache went away. Second, there was no conclusive indication that drinking small amounts of alcohol (a glass of wine with dinner, for example) was harmful. And in fact, other studies indicate that a glass of red wine with dinner may be good for what ails you, though no study recommends that people who don't drink take up the practice to improve good health.

Bottom line is this: cocktail deafness isn't a figment of your imagination. Drinkers do lose their ability to hear, especially in lower frequency ranges required to understand speech. The alcohol-related hearing loss is temporary. However, exposing your natural sound-processing system (your ears) to loud volumes produced by the DJ and party revelers will cause cumulative damage and hearing loss over time.

So, enjoy a glass of wine or champers for a celebration, but please, turn down the music. It's a little piercing.
 

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