Which drugs are ototoxic?
Medications known to damage the ear include:
- Aspirin: Unlikely to cause side effects unless taken in excessive doses. Tinnitus, dizziness and nausea typically go away when the large doses are discontinued.
- Antibiotics: Antibiotics most likely to be ototoxic are aminoglycosides such as gentamycin, streptomycin and neomycin.
- Cytotoxic drugs: Medications used to treat cancer can cause hearing loss. These include Carboplatin (ovarian and lung cancer); Cisplatin (ovarian, testicular, lung or bladder cancer); and Oxaliplatin (bowel cancer). These drugs can worsen hearing loss when paired with other medications.
- Diuretics: Class of drugs that increase the amount of urine you produce to treat patients with built-up fluid in their tissues. Diuretics are used to treat heart and kidney failure, high blood pressure or liver disease. Only “loop” diuretics are known to be ototoxic when given in large doses.
What can you do?
Although research is being conducted to develop protection against ototoxicity, there is currently no approved method. Hearing loss from these drugs is usually temporary, although some individuals experience permanent hearing loss.
Talk with your prescribing doctor and audiologist to discuss the potential hearing side effects of your medications. An audiologist can record a baseline record of your hearing prior to starting treatment to help monitor side effects.