Have you ever heard of ototoxicity? Chances are, if you have it has only been in passing on a list from your Houston hearing center of possible causes of hearing loss. So, what is it?
Ototoxicity refers to chemicals or drugs that are toxic to the ear. Medications that fall under this category 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 type of damage can cause temporary or permanent hearing loss, tinnitus or vertigo.
More than 200 drugs are currently listed as having the potential to cause ototoxicity. This long list of drugs 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?
Most drugs are prescribed by your Houston physician for a reason; that means you cannot simply stop taking a drug if you are nervous about the side effects. Instead, talk to your doctor. They could either have an alternative drug for you to try or will help you determine if the benefits of the drug outweigh any possible side effects.
If you do need to take an ototoxic drug, your Houston audiologist at the hearing center will recommend having your hearing and balance checked before starting your dosage. This will enable them to determine your baseline. You will then be instructed to pay attention to any ototoxic-like symptoms throughout the treatment process. Periodic hearing tests may also be ordered; the results will be compared to your baseline test.
If you think you may be experiencing hearing loss due to the drug, contact your hearing clinic’s Houston doctor today.