(Last updated Jul 11, 2019)

What are Some of the Most Ototoxic Drugs?


Ototoxicity is damage to the ear, specifically the cochlea or auditory nerve and sometimes the vestibular system, by a toxin.  There are many drugs today which are ototoxic, and can damage your hearing and cause other problems related to the ears and balance at a very rapid rate. Many times, these ototoxic drugs will damage hearing permanently leading to a sensorineural hearing loss. It’s best to watch out for these drugs and only use them as a last-resort, opting for similiar drugs which aren’t ototoxic whenever possible.  There are currently over  200 known ototoxic drugs available today. These include medicines used to treat serious infections, cancer, and heart disease. Here are a few of the most common ototoxic medications to watch out for:

Neomycin: If you have a perforated ear drum and plan on taking ear drops over a long period of time, watch out for ear drops which contain this ingredient. Studies haven’t fully elucidated why Neomycin contributes to hearing loss, but we know they produce damage through the ability to generate free radicals in the inner ear.

Aspirin and quinine: Aspirin, widely used as a pain reliever and fever reducer, has proven to be ototoxic. Aspirin and quinine are both known to cause temporary tinnitus.  They may also contribute to  hearing loss, particularly when given at high doses (even for short periods of time).

All loop diuretics: Often used to treat hypertension, loop diuretics have shown to cause temporary and sometimes permanent tinnitus, hearing loss, and balance disorders. Most side-effects related to loop diuretics dissipate within 24 hrs, but some damage may be irreversible.

Viagra and other ED medications: ED drugs have long been linked to everything from vision problems to loss of sensation, but there are a growing number of cases which unanimously support the claim that ED medications may also cause hearing loss.

If you’re taking any of the above medications, do not stop taking them without your doctors approval.

If you’d like a free phone consultation with a licensed hearing provider, please feel free to call us at 800-731-6794.

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