Hearing Loss, Medications and Ototoxic Monitoring
Dr. Egan explains the most common types of medications that can cause hearing loss and the importance of ototoxic monitoring.
Hi, I’m Dr. Egan from Now Hear This, and today I’d like to talk to you about something called ototoxic monitoring. Now, the first thing you might be wondering is what is ototoxic? I don’t even know the first word before the monitoring. Well, ototoxicity is when something, a medication, can cause damage to our inner ear hearing organ, the cochlea. There are many types of ototoxic drugs. Some of he most common include aspirin, when taken in large quantities. There are all sorts of NSAIDs, like ibuprofen and Naproxen. Certain antibiotics can be ototoxic, especially aminoglycosides such as gentamicin, streptomycin, neomycin. Hearing related side effect can occur in people who have kidney disease and take certain medications for those issues. Loop diuretics used to treat high blood pressure and heart failure can also be ototoxic. Some of the most common are furosemide and bumetanide. And medications used to treat cancer such as cisplatin chemotherapy and even autoimmune diseases. There are certain medications with things like rheumatoid arthritis as well that can be ototoxic. There is a large, comprehensive list of any possible drug that could be ototoxic. The best way to check that out and learn more about the medications you are taking is by going to the American Tinnitus Association website. From there they have a search engine where you can look up all the different kinds of drugs and learn if they have ototoxic side effects. Ototoxic monitoring is the process of having regular annual hearing tests to monitor the progress of the ototoxic medication that you’re taking and how it impacts your hearing system over time. Commonly this is used for people who are undergoing chemotherapy. You’ll get a baseline before chemotherapy and then have sequential hearing tests to track the progress of that hearing loss, so we know how the drug is impacting your hearing system. Even more commonly, we see it for things like autoimmune disease, for medications for rheumatoid arthritis. Tracking the hearing annually gives up an idea of what’s happening, but also allows us to make a more timely intervention for when things like hearing aids and other assistive listening devices would be warranted or needed. Especially when you are undergoing these other health concerns, it’s even more important that you’re hearing your best at your other important doctors’ appointments. If you are having important doctors’ appointments and making decisions about your healthcare, we want to make sure that you’re hearing your best. So, we do recommend that patients that have certain medications that are ototoxic or potentially harmful to their hearing to get their hearing tested annually, so we can be informed on exactly what’s happening, and even more importantly, to determine appropriate treatment. Such as hearing aids cochlear implants, whatever device is needed for them to be hearing their best. I hope you learned a little bit about hearing and how it’s connected to other medications. And of course, have a wonderful rest of your day!