Are You Taking One of Them?
Approximately 200 prescription and over-the-counter medications are known to be ototoxic — which, quite literally, means “poisonous to the ears.”
Be informed before taking medications
Drugs considered ototoxic have the potential to damage the inner ear or cause vestibular dysfunction, which could result in:
- Hearing loss
- Tinnitus (ringing in ears)
- Balance disorders
While many of the ototoxic effects are temporary and go away once a medication is stopped, some can be long term or permanent.
What medications are ototoxic?
Time, probable connection and scientific studies are required to determine a drug’s ototoxic capabilities. Therefore, it’s difficult to make a precise list, especially with new medications. Many drugs have been tested, and here’s a short-list of known ototoxic drugs:
- Quinine – the antimalaria drug
- Loop diuretics (or“water pills”)
- Certain antibiotics
- Some anticancer drugs
- Some anesthetics
- Environmental chemicals like carbon monoxide, hexane and mercury
Symptoms of ototoxicity
If you’re taking a known or suspected ototoxic drug and begin to notice any of the following symptoms, consult with your healthcare professional right away.
- Mild tinnitus or ringing in the ears
- Noticeable hearing loss, especially high-frequency hearing loss
- Issues with balance
What can you do?
Unfortunately, there is no “one size fits all” solution to preventing ototoxic-related hearing loss. However, depending on each individual’s situation, certain recommendations can be followed:
- Before treating serious illnesses or medical conditions with ototoxic drugs, discuss the risks vs. benefits with your healthcare team
- Follow medication instructions carefully
- Avoid taking multiple ototoxic drugs simultaneously (like aspirin and loop diuretics)
- When around environmental chemicals, ensure proper ventilation and minimize usage/exposure
Get a hearing screening
Most importantly, before receiving treatment for any condition that involves known or suspected ototoxic drugs (both prescribed or over-the-counter), you should get a hearing screening taken by a hearing professional.
FREE HEARING SCREENINGS
At Simple Hearing Solutions, we offer free hearing screenings for area residents who are concerned about their hearing or who think they may have a hearing loss.
Call us today to schedule yours 604-634-6365.
Listen for any changes
A pre-treatment hearing screening will set a baseline for your hearing that can be used to measure against during the course of your treatment. Then, regular hearing tests throughout treatment can help detect any changes. These could be shared with your healthcare professional.