HEARING LOSS AND OTOTOXICITY
According to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), there are more than 200 ototoxic medications, both prescription and over-the-counter, on the market today.
The National Center for Biotechnology Information has reported that, “The cisplatin ototoxicity occurs between 23% and 50% in adults and up to 60% in children. However, some studies have reported elevated hearing thresholds (hearing loss) in up to 100% of cisplatin-treated cancer patients, while it is estimated to be 63% with aminoglycosides and 6-7% with furosemide.”
Ototoxicity is a chemical or medication that is toxic to the ear. It can be a side effect of a drug. This occurs when a person ingests medication which adversely affects the cochlea or the auditory nerve and can even affect the vestibular system. The sensory cells, which are located in the inner ear, are used in hearing and balance.
The most common signs are:
- Hearing loss
- Ringing or buzzing in the ears (tinnitus)
- Balance disorders, such as dizziness.
- Hearing loss usually occurs in both ears (called bilateral hearing loss), first occurring with the difficulty in hearing high pitches.
- Sometimes hearing and balance problems can be temporary and reversible, though other times the damage is permanent.
Permanent damage can be caused by:
- Certain aminoglycoside antibiotics, such as gentamicin, streptomycin, and neomycin
- Chemotherapy and other cancer treatment — including cyclophosphamide, cisplatin, and bleomycin
Temporary damage can be caused by:
- Salicylate pain relievers (aspirin and other pain killers – in large doses)
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs — Naproxen or Ibuprofen
- Quinine (to treat malaria)
- Loop Diuretics (to treat high blood pressure and certain heart and kidney conditions)
There are other factors that can influence the damage to one’s hearing, such substance dosage, age, gender, and health. Currently there is no approved protective strategy from ototoxicity.
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