According to a Consumer Reports survey conducted last year, 55% of Americans take prescription medication and at an average of four per day. Some of these common medications have a lesser known side effect, hearing loss, and are known as ototoxic medications.
What are Ototoxic Medications?
Specific medications can cause temporary and sometimes permanent damage to the ear. Side effects include ringing in the ear or tinnitus, hearing loss and balance disorders. These drugs include medicines used to treat serious infections, cancer, and heart disease. According to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, there are more than 200 ototoxic medications currently on the market. ASHA
What happens to the ear?
A recent article in US News, explains many drugs can cause permanent hearing loss by damaging the sensory hair cells that are used for hearing, located in the inner ear. Without inner ear cochlear hair cells, a person will have a significant reduction in hearing. Total hearing loss is the lack of any inner ear cochlear hair cells.
Top Ototoxic Medications:
1. Aspirin and Acetaminophen
Aspirin-induced temporary hearing loss is normally associated with large doses, at least 8 to 12 pills per day. The effect is typically reversible once the frequency of aspirin intake is reduced or stopped. Acetaminophen which is found in pain relievers like ibuprofen and some prescription painkillers, such as Vicadin and Percocet, if taken in high doses and over a long period can reduce blood flow to the cochlea, which could impair its function.
People who take aminoglycosides, the most commonly used class of antibiotics worldwide, risk a 20% to 60% chance of losing their hearing permanently.
Researchers are currently testing a modified version of an aminoglycoside that worked in mice without the adverse side effects of deafness or kidney damage.
3. Chemotherapy Drugs
Certain chemotherapy drugs such as cisplatin or carboplatin, which are known to cause hearing loss, end up being exactly what the doctor ordered to kill the cancer.
4. Loop Diuretics
Loop diuretics are used in the treatment of edema due to heart failure, liver and kidney disease and sometimes high blood pressure. Damage from loop diuretics is caused by changes in the balance of fluids and salts of the inner ear, which can result in tissue swelling and issues with transmission of nerve signals. While loop diuretic-induced hearing loss is normally temporary, the effect is more likely to be permanent when the medication is used in combination with other ototoxic drugs. Pharmacy Times
5. Erectile Dysfunction Drugs
Viagra, Levitra, and Cialis haven’t been proven to cause hearing loss, but the FDA issued an alert due to the strong relationship between the use of these drugs and sudden hearing loss. WebMD
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