Many drugs, including medications, can damage the ears. These drugs are called ototoxic drugs. They include the antibiotics streptomycin, tobramycin, gentamicin, neomycin, and vancomycin, as well as certain chemotherapy medications (for example, cisplatin), furosemide, and aspirin.
Whether people develop drug ototoxicity depends on many factors, including
How much of the drug the person took (the dose)
How long the person took the drug
Whether the person has decreased kidney function, making it harder to clear the drug from a person's body
Whether the person has a family history of ear disorders caused by drugs
Whether the person's genetic make-up makes the person more susceptible to the effects of ototoxic drugs
Whether the person is taking more than one ototoxic drug at the same time
In addition to being responsible for hearing, the inner ear is also responsible for balance (see also Overview of the Inner Ear Overview of the Inner Ear The fluid-filled inner ear (labyrinth) is a complex structure consisting of two major parts: The organ of hearing (cochlea) The organ of balance (vestibular system) The cochlea and the vestibular... read more ).
Symptoms of Drug-Related Ear Disorders
When people have ear disorders caused by drugs, their symptoms include one or more of the following:
Problems with walking and balance
Vertigo Dizziness and Vertigo Dizziness is an inexact term people often use to describe various related sensations, including Faintness (feeling about to pass out) Light-headedness Dysequilibrium (feeling off balance or... read more (a false sensation of moving or spinning) may develop temporarily. Other symptoms can be temporary but are sometimes permanent.
Treatment of Drug-Related Ear Disorders
When doctors detect ototoxicity, they stop giving the medication (unless the disorder being treated is life-threatening and there are no other alternatives). There is no treatment to reverse ototoxicity, but sometimes hearing or loss of balance may partially recover on its own.
Prevention of Drug-Related Ear Disorders
People should take the lowest effective dosage of medications that can damage the ear, and the dosage should be closely monitored (for example, by measuring medication levels in the bloodstream when possible). If possible before beginning treatment with an ototoxic medication, people should have their hearing measured and then monitored during treatment because symptoms are late warning signs that the medication has caused damage.
To prevent harming the fetus, pregnant women should avoid taking ototoxic antibiotics.
Older people and people with preexisting hearing loss should not be treated with ototoxic medications if other effective medications are available.
Drugs Mentioned In This Article
|Generic Name||Select Brand Names|
|No brand name available|
|AK-Tob, BETHKIS, Kitabis Pak, Nebcin, Tobi, TOBI Podhaler, Tobrasol , Tobrex|
|Garamycin, Genoptic, Genoptic SOP, Gentacidin, Gentafair, Gentak , Gentasol, Ocu-Mycin|
|FIRVANQ, Vancocin, Vancocin Powder, VANCOSOL|
|Platinol, Platinol -AQ|
|Delone , FUROSCIX, Lasix|
|Anacin Adult Low Strength, Aspergum, Aspir-Low, Aspirtab , Aspir-Trin , Bayer Advanced Aspirin, Bayer Aspirin, Bayer Aspirin Extra Strength, Bayer Aspirin Plus, Bayer Aspirin Regimen, Bayer Children's Aspirin, Bayer Extra Strength, Bayer Extra Strength Plus, Bayer Genuine Aspirin, Bayer Low Dose Aspirin Regimen, Bayer Womens Aspirin , BeneHealth Aspirin, Bufferin, Bufferin Extra Strength, Bufferin Low Dose, DURLAZA, Easprin , Ecotrin, Ecotrin Low Strength, Genacote, Halfprin, MiniPrin, St. Joseph Adult Low Strength, St. Joseph Aspirin, VAZALORE, Zero Order Release Aspirin, ZORprin|