Diflunisal (Dolobid) Blocks Key Protein Involved in Hearing

A recent study concluded that the aspirin-like pain killer, Diflunisal (Dolobid) blocks a key protein involved in hearing, prestin.1 It is well known that aspirin blocks prestin, a protein which is involved in the functioning of the outer hairs of the cochlea, causing temporary hearing loss and tinnitus. The research came out of the assumption that other salicylate pain killers (the active ingredient in aspirin) may have this same effect. It turns out that they do, or at least the aspirin-like drug this study specifically looked at does, Diflunisal (Dolobid).

OTC Medication can be Very Harmful Touting Serious Side-Effects

This research paper brings up a very important point of pain management that a lot of people don’t realize: Over the counter medication can be very harmful, and have serious side effects. In fact, one of the top reasons for liver failure is due to tylenol poisoning. All NSAID (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) have the potential to cause harm, and should be taken as directed, and not for prolonged periods of time. These drugs include ibuprofen, naproxen, aleve, acetaminophen (tylenol), and aspirin – there are many other NSAID drugs that are prescription only.

Liver and Kidney Failure are 2 Common Repercussions

It is generally recommended that these drugs not be taken more than 10 days in a row, without talking to your doctor. And the specific dosing instructions is INCREDIBLY IMPORTANT to adhere to!! Liver and kidney failure are 2 common repercussions to taking too much of these medications. NSAIDs can also raise your risk of having a heart attack or stroke in high doses, and are well known to cause stomach bleeding. They are the safest when used for a short period of time and at a low dose. Side effects are most common with large doses over a long time.

Some common side effects to be aware of when taking these medications include:

  • Stomach pain and heartburn (stomach ulcers)
  • A tendency towards bleeding (bruising, bleeding more from a cut), especially when taking aspirin. It is common to stop taking NSAIDs before surgery. Ask your doctor before taking NSAIDs if you are on blood-thinning medications (such as Coumadin)
  • Headaches and dizziness
  • Ringing in the ears (tinnitus)
  • Allergic reactions such as rashes, wheezing, and throat swelling
  • Liver or kidney problems; If you have any kidney or liver problems, talk to your doctor before taking NSAIDs
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Swelling of the legs
  1. Duret G, Pereira FA, Raphael RM. Diflunisal inhibits prestin by chloride-dependent mechanism. PLoS ONE. 2017;12(8):e0183046.
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Node Smith, ND, is a naturopathic physician in Portland, OR and associate editor for NDNR. He has been instrumental in maintaining a firm connection to the philosophy and heritage of naturopathic medicine among the next generation of docs. He helped found the first multi-generational experiential retreat, which brings elders, alumni, and students together for a weekend camp-out where naturopathic medicine and medical philosophy are experienced in nature. Four years ago he helped found the non-profit, Association for Naturopathic ReVitalization (ANR), for which he serves as the board chairman. ANR has a mission to inspire health practitioners to embody the naturopathic principles through experiential education. Node also has a firm belief that the next era of naturopathic medicine will see a resurgence of in-patient facilities which use fasting, earthing, hydrotherapy and homeopathy to bring people back from chronic diseases of modern living; he is involved in numerous conversations and projects to bring about this vision.

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