Ototoxicity refers to chemicals or drugs that are toxic to the ear. These medications can actually damage the hair cells in your inner ear or the vestibulocochlear nerve, which is responsible for sending hearing and balance information from the inner ear to the brain. This kind of damage can cause temporary or permanent hearing loss, tinnitus or vertigo.
What is ototoxicity?
There are more than 200 drugs with the potential to cause ototoxicity. This list contains both over-the-counter and prescription medications; the most commonly prescribed ototoxic drugs include salicylate pain relievers (aspirin, used for pain relief and to treat heart conditions), quinine (to treat malaria) and loop diuretics (to treat certain heart and kidney conditions).
What do you do if you are prescribed an ototoxic drug?
While it may seem easy to simply avoid these drugs to preserve your hearing, some serious health conditions respond best to these drugs. And at the end of the day, the benefits often outweigh any possible side effects.
The best plan is to visit your audiologist and have your hearing and balance checked before you start the drug; this test is called your baseline. You will then be instructed to monitor your symptoms throughout the treatment process. Periodic hearing tests may be ordered; the results from these tests will be compared with your baseline test.
It is important to note that you should NOT simply stop taking a drug prescribed by your doctor because you believe you are experiencing ototoxicity symptoms. Instead, you should contact their office to schedule an appointment. Your doctor will then work with you either find an alternate medication or work to treat your hearing loss.
Call Victory Hearing & Balance at (512) 428-8355 for more information or to schedule an appointment.