Reference: Connors, Aoife. 2010. "Excessive Alcohol Can Influence Hearing Loss." Irish Medical Times, November 19. Accessed December 6, 2010. http://www.imt.ie/news/2010/11/excessive-alcohol-can-influence-hearing-loss.html.
Researchers from the University of Ulm in Germany tested both heavy and social drinkers’ Brainstem Auditory Evoked Potentials (BAEP) levels, by testing the level of damage in the part of the brain that enables one to hear. The results indicated that alcohol consumption affects the ability to hear. Alcohol could damage the central auditory cortex of the brain, therefore affecting the ability to hear: the ears might function fine, but the brain cannot process the sounds due to the damage to the auditory nerves. The quantity of alcohol and the length of time needed for the brain damage are unknown, which implies that even moderate drinkers may risk the hearing loss. The study also found that people with alcoholism may suffer damage within their ears, since high levels of alcohol in the bloodstream can create a toxic environment known as ototoxicity, which can damage the delicate hair cells in the cochlea.
Reflection: Excessive drinking is known to have bad influences in health, but it was the first time that I heard any connection made between drinking and hearing. Drunkenness is often accompanied with temporal numbness, and the past British study results of alcohol and noise causing temporary hearing loss is not that surprising. However, the fact that drinking could damange the auditory cortex, is quite serious (well, now I am glad that I don't drink). The article did not describe the study results with specific numbers, but the implication that even social drinkers might experience the brain damage, calls for immediate further investigation. I found the affect of alcoholism to the cochlea also to be very interesting; I would like to know how alcohol can create a toxic environment for the cochlea. In any means, excessive and regular alcohol consumption likely to lead to hearing loss, either through brain or cochlea damage.