Do you or your loved ones…
- take multiple medications or are considering medical treatment options requiring them?
- notice how drug ads on television spend more time explaining side effects than potential quality of life benefits?
- as healthcare consumers, read and understand the fine print of informational pamphlets included with prescriptions?
While medicinal therapies can help manage acute or chronic conditions, as with many things in life, it is crucial to evaluate potential benefits and risks of healthcare decisions.
“Ototoxicity” is a big word which most are unfamiliar with. More simply stated, it is medicine-induced hearing loss which, although common, is rarely discussed and seldom explained. The term derives from “oto,” referring to the ear and “toxic,” meaning poisonous. From at-home drug cabinets to life-saving protocols, many types of therapeutic agents are ototoxic.
Did You Know? An estimated 100 classes of drugs frequently used to treat pain and infections, along with cancer, heart or kidney disease, can damage the inner ear’s tiny cochlea and/or vestibular (balance) system.
From pain relievers like aspirin, to NSAIDS such as ibuprofen, or antibiotics to loop diuretics and chemotherapy medications, exposure to potentially ototoxic medications can damage inner ear sensory hair cells, often permanently. As a result, individuals may experience hearing loss, tinnitus (ringing in the ears), hyperacusis (acute sensitivity to sound) or dizziness.
Learning ototoxic factors are societally prevalent, you should hear the facts about Signs & Signals. As necessary, experts suggest proactively discussing ototoxic concerns with your:
- Primary care doctor
- ENT doctor
- Physician’s assistant
- Oncologist and of course, your …
- Hearing care professional
Many variables influence audiologic responses such as medication types, dosage amounts and usage duration. With ototoxicity detection, sooner is better and notable symptoms, including hearing loss, ought to be promptly reported. For your information, timely discovery of harmful effects is carefully advised.
For those receiving chemotherapy, earlier referrals to hearing care professionals facilitates proactive identification of ototoxic hearing loss, evidence-based diagnostics, empathetic counseling and implementation of personalized hearing solutions. In fact, your healthcare team’s coordination may reduce ototoxic risks and improve quality of life outcomes.
Fortunately, some insurance policies cover essential exams, so we encourage closely reviewing your benefits. Among other clinical facets, with your healthcare providers’ sound advice, preventive Ototoxicity Monitoring should include:
- A baseline hearing test, prior to or coincident with new pharmaceutical therapies
- Periodic testing, as properly prescribe
- Timely testing, when noteworthy symptoms arise
Healthy adherence to this regimen is vital, as ototoxic detriments often progress until belatedly recognizing hearing abilities, especially at higher frequencies, have rapidly deteriorated. Suffice it say, communication struggles may inhibit abilities to understand verbal care instructions which are in your best interest.
Beyond talking with your primary care doctor, oncologist or pharmacist, please see us and encourage loved ones to get periodic testing which accurately assesses the type and degree of hearing loss. These personal consultations will provide key baseline knowledge and useful dialogue on possible side effects of medicinal treatments. You should know, our kind words of wisdom will serve you well.