Ototoxic Medications Introduction: Look Out for Ear Damage from These Drugs and Medications

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There are countless drug and medication advertisements nowadays with on-going lists of unfavorable side effects. But did you know that there are a number of medications that can be unhealthy for your hearing? These types of medications are out there and they’re referred to as ototoxic medications. Both over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription may be ototoxic. You can find more than two hundred recognized ototoxic drugs that are in common use according to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. The five classes of drugs listed below are a few of the more prevalent ones that you may recognize or even be taking.

  • Salicylates – Salicylates are chemicals in aspirin – one of the more widely used heart disease treatments and pain reliever. A number of people use salicylates on a daily basis to manage heart conditions. Thankfully, the negative effects fade away once the drug containing the salicylates is stopped.
  • NSAIDs – Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs can lead to temporary hearing loss and a ringing in the ears in large quantities.Ibuprofen and naproxen are two easily recognized NSAIDs.
  • Loop Diuretics – Loop diuretics are typically used in the treatment of particular kidney conditions, high blood pressure, and heart failure. Hearing loss and tinnitus are potential side effects brought on by these, but tend to be mild and are oftentimes unnoticed by patients.
  • Chemotherapy Drugs – Irreversible hearing damage has been noted in many cancer treatment drugs, such as cyclophosphamide, cisplatin, carboplatin and bleomycin. Like many drugs mentioned in this article, the life-saving benefits oftentimes exceed any risk, but mention any hearing changes to your doctor.
  • Aminoglycoside Antibiotics – Streptomycin, kanamycin, neomycin, amikacin and gentamicin are just a few of the aminoglycoside antibiotics prescribed by doctors to treat bacterial infections. Complications arise when these drugs generate free radicals, which can destroy the inner ear. Infants of mothers who used kanamycin or streptomycin while they were pregnant have been known to be deaf.

Elevated dosage and/or mixing of these ototoxic medications can increase the risks, but always consult your doctor before modifying or discontinuing any prescription drugs. To protect your hearing health, talk to your physician for alternatives to known ototoxic drugs; if they cannot be avoided, be sure you are taking the appropriate dose precisely as directed.

The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.

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