Over 200 Medications May Cause Hearing and Balance Disorders

Over 200 Medications May Cause Hearing and Balance DisordersMany people believe hearing loss only stems from exposure to very loud noises for an extended period of time or from old age, but certain drugs in your medicine cabinet may also contribute to hearing deficits.
Drugs that cause damage to the ear, hearing loss, ringing in the ear or balance disorders are commonly referred to as ototoxic. According to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), there are more than 200 known ototoxic drugs on the market. Many of these medications can be found over the counter or on the shelves in vitamin aisles; others are used to treat diseases such as cancer, infections and heart disease.
Signs and Symptoms of Ototoxic Medications
One of the first symptoms people tend to notice if they are taking an ototoxic medication is tinnitus or ringing in the ears. Over time, hearing loss may occur as well as balance issues such as having difficulty maintaining your balance or feeling unsteady on your feet.
Some hearing and balance issues that result from taking certain medications can be reversed by discontinuing the medication. Depending on the type of drug and the length of time using the drug, damage to the sensory cells used in hearing and balance may have progressed too far to be corrected.
Common Ototoxic Medications

The following drugs have been reported to cause hearing and/or balance disorders over time or if taken in large quantities:
  • Aspirin
  • Acetaminophen
  • Antibiotics - Neomycin, Gentamicin, Amikacin, Netilmicin, Erythromycin, Azithromycin, Clarithromycin, Ofloxacin, Ciprofloxacin, Levofloxacin, Tetracyclines, Vancomycin, Teicoplanin, Framycetin, Colistin, Imipenem with Cilastin, Tobramycin, Ofloxacin, Norfloxacin, Cotrimoxazole, Cefpodoxime
  • Anticancer drugs - Cisplatin, Carboplatin, Oxaloplatin, Vindesine, Vinblastine, Vincristine,  Bexarotene, Paclitaxel, Etoposide, Hydroxyurea, Procarbazine, Docetaxel
  • Antidepressants - Imipramine, Amitriptyline, Amoxapine, Citalopram, Fluoxetine, Sertraline, Moclobemide
  • Antivirals - Ganciclovir, Zalcitabine, Ribavirin + Interferon, Acyclovir, Ritonavir, Lopinavir, Indinavir
  • Erectile dysfunction drugs - Viagra, Cialis
  • Ibuprofen
  • Loop diuretics, commonly used to treat heart and kidney conditions - Frusemide, Bumentanide, Torasemide
  • Prescription painkillers – Vicodin, Percocet[AA1]  
If you or a loved one has experienced ringing in the ear, hearing loss or balance issues while taking an over-the-counter or prescription medication, contact the Pennsylvania Ear Institute of Salus University for a comprehensive evaluation.

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