Date of Degree


Document Type

Capstone Project

Degree Name





Barbara Weinstein

Committee Members

Brett Martin

Subject Categories

Speech and Hearing Science | Speech Pathology and Audiology


Hearing loss, alcohol, spirits, male, female, race.


Objective: To review the literature on potential permanent effects of long-term alcohol consumption on hearing status in adults 40 years of age and older.

Study Design: Systematic review of prospective and retrospective studies; meta-analysis of case-controlled studies.

Methods: One researcher independently reviewed MEDLINE (January 1, 2000-May 1, 2019), CINAHL (January 1, 2000-May 1, 2019), PubMed (January 1, 2000-May 1, 2019), and Web of Science (January 1, 2000-May 1, 2019). A manual reference search was additionally conducted. Randomized controlled trials, prospective cohort studies, consecutive/non-consecutive case series, and retrospective reviews in which a clear definition of hearing loss was stated were included in the study.

Results: Seven articles met the inclusion criteria. There were disparate findings among the literature. Several articles found no association with alcohol and hearing loss while others found a protective effect, with differing quantities of consumption. What is evident is that there is limited data assessing the effect of alcohol on hearing loss, rendering it difficult to make conclusions.

Conclusions: There is evidence demonstrating an association between heavy alcohol consumption and worsened hearing thresholds. However, there are disparate findings on less quantities of consumption of alcohol on one’s hearing. Additionally, the differences among the studies make it difficult to draw definitive conclusions. Furthermore, although several studies have found independent discoveries of cultural, racial, and gender-based differences, there is insufficient data to confidently state a difference between the aforementioned categorical variables. It is evident that more research needs to be conducted in order to better understand the correlation between alcohol consumption and its effects on one’s hearing.

Keywords: Hearing loss, high-frequency hearing loss, low-frequency hearing loss, conductive hearing loss, sensorineural hearing loss, mixed hearing loss, permanent hearing loss, alcohol, spirits, port, liquor, wine, beer, male, female, race, ethnicity, culture.