Drugs that can harm your hearing

There are roughly 200 drugs that have been shown to cause hearing loss, including some that may already be in your medicine cabinet.

They are known as ototoxics, oto meaning ear and toxic, of course, means poison. They can result in temporary or permanent damage. If you are already suffering from hearing loss you should be aware of that these drugs may cause you to lose more.

Ototoxicity first drew major scientific attention with the introduction of streptomycin in the 1940’s. It proved to be very effective in treating tuberculosis. Unfortunately many of the patients also suffered irreversible hearing loss.

Antibiotics are the main family of culprits, particularly the aminoglycosides like streptomycin and gentamicin. Other medicines to be wary of include loop diuretics such as furosemide, and chemotherapy agents such as cisplatin.

Even some common pain relievers are suspect. It has been well established that temporary hearing loss can occur if you take very high doses of aspirin. Now, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) and acetaminophen (Tylenol) may also pose a threat to your hearing.

A major study by researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital concluded that taking ibuprofen or acetaminophen regularly was associated with increased risk of hearing loss in women. For example, it noted that a woman taking ibuprofen 4-5 times a week had a 21 percent increase in risk compared to those who took it once a week or less.

For men, it’s worth noting that the FDA required that a warning on potential hearing loss be included with Cialis, Levitra, and Viagra.

The best advice, ask your doctor about any medications you are taking and the risk they may pose to your hearing.

* For more information:

Oxitoxicity and Women -Brigham and Womens University Study

AARP article on oxitoxic drugs

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