Regular use of household painkillers including ibuprofen and paracetamol can lead to an increased risk of hearing loss in women, according to a study.
The more often a woman takes either medication, the higher her risk of hearing loss, researchers said.
The non-prescription painkillers are widely available at supermarkets and are taken by millions every day to ease headaches and inflammation.
But a study of more than 62,000 women found taking the drugs just twice a week increases the risk of hearing loss by up to 13 per cent.
Using ibuprofen six times a week makes women up to 24 per cent more likely to develop some degree of hearing problem compared with those who do not use the medication. Those using paracetamol up to five times a week increase the risk of hearing loss by 21 per cent. The same effect was not seen for women who regularly take aspirin.
Researchers who carried out the US study say they do not yet know why there is a link, or whether the damage caused is permanent.
The same team carried out similar research two years ago and found that men were also at risk of hearing loss from taking the drugs.