How Ototoxic Monitoring Protects Your Hearing

Woman holding ears
Effectively managing your exposure to ototoxic medications and treatments will lower your risk of hearing loss, tinnitus and balance issues. Ototoxic management provides standard monitoring protocols, so your audiologist can treat your hearing loss and make recommendations on adjusting your treatment.

What is Ototoxicity?

If a medication or treatment is ototoxic, it can damage your ear and its nerve supply. Ototoxic drugs and chemicals affect the inner ear, affecting your hearing and spatial awareness. You may experience single- or double-sided ototoxicity.

Signs of ototoxic damage include:

  • Tinnitus, a ringing or buzzing in the ears
  • Trouble hearing speech in noisy environments
  • Vertigo or dizziness
  • Loss of balance
  • Frequent falls
  • Motion sickness

Common Ototoxic Medications

There are more than 200 ototoxic medications.

Here are some common prescription and over-the-counter drugs that cause hearing loss:

  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like aspirin, ibuprofen and naproxen
  • Water pills
  • Diuretics
  • Anti-anxiety medication
  • Quinine-based medication
  • Certain chemotherapy and cancer treatment drugs
  • Antibiotics used to treat bacterial infections such as gentamicin, amikacin and tobramycin
  • Some anticonvulsant drugs
  • Medication used to treat high blood pressure

What is Ototoxic Monitoring?

It’s a type of healthcare management for people who have been exposed to ototoxicants and show signs of hearing loss, tinnitus and imbalance. You may be unaware that your medication or procedure negatively affects your hearing. It’s important to consult your doctor or specialist to verify if your treatment may cause hearing loss.

Ototoxic management provides audiologists with a communication pathway to coordinate with other doctors and specialists to mitigate the source of the ototoxic exposure.

Effective management includes:

Drug review: Your audiologist will require a complete list of your medications and their dosages. They will also need to know if you’re receiving chemical treatment, such as chemotherapy, to assess your risk for ototoxic exposure and determine which parts of your ears are affected.

Hearing evaluation: It’s best to get a baseline hearing test before you begin treatment so your audiologist can understand the effects of your ototoxic treatment. You’ll receive a physical examination of your ear and an audiogram to determine your type and degree of hearing loss.

Treatment: An audiologist will make recommendations based on your needs and healthcare requirements. That may include suggesting a reduction in dosage or a change in medication altogether. If you can’t eliminate the ototoxic treatment, you may require tinnitus management, hearing aids or another type of sound therapy.

Monitoring: Successfully managing ototoxic exposure requires regular follow-up appointments so your audiologist can monitor your hearing health. You may require further hearing evaluations.

The expert audiologists at Hearing Associates specialize in mitigating the effects of ototoxic medications and treatments. Call 888-760-2032 or contact us online to schedule your appointment.