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What Is Ototoxicity?

Ototoxicity is ear poisoning. There are many chemicals, drugs, and other agents that are known to cause hearing loss, balance disorders, or tinnitus. While not the most common cause of hearing loss, ototoxicity is still a threat. Ototoxicity causes damage to the auditory system when the vestibulocochlear nerve is exposed to drugs or chemicals.

Ototoxicity Treatment in Naples & Estero FL

What Causes Ototoxicity?

Ototoxicity occurs when there are chemicals or drugs that are absorbed by the body which affect the ear. This contaminates the vestibulocochlear nerve, which damages your hearing. This occurrence increases when the ears are exposed to dangerous levels of sound. That means that during situations like construction, firefighting, and firing weapons, you are especially susceptible to ototoxicity.

Ototoxicity Treatment

If there has been damage to the auditory system because of ototoxic contaminants or drugs, there is hope. Sometimes when the ototoxic drug is discontinued, hearing and balance problems can be reversed. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. Occasionally the damage is permanent, and there are no treatments available to reverse permanent damage to the nerve and inner ear. Preventative measures are often the best cure. Being aware of the side effects of drugs you’re taking, wearing ear protection, and getting regular hearing screenings will keep your hearing in good shape.

Common Ototoxicants and Avoiding Ototoxicity

There are more than 200 known ototoxic medications on the market today. They remain on the market because they help with serious conditions such as cancer or heart disease.

While there are many ototoxicants, there are certain groups that are more likely to result in ear poisoning:

  • Pharmaceuticals such as loop diuretics, certain analgesics, certain antibiotics, and some chemotherapy medications
  • Solvents such as toluene, ethylbenzene and trichloroethylene
  • Asphyxiants such as hydrogen cyanide, tobacco smoke, and carbon monoxide
  • Metals and compounds such as mercury compounds, germanium dioxide, and lead
  • Nitriles such as 3-butene-nitrile, cis-2-pentene-nitrile, and acrylonitrile
  • Automotive and aviation fuels
  • Insect repellents
  • Perfumes
  • Detergents
  • Paint thinners

While you can take a preventative measure such as staying away from certain known ototoxicants, there are so many that staying away from them all is difficult and can actually be harmful. The benefits of some ototoxicants outweigh the risk, such as chemotherapy and antibiotics.

There is increased motivation for drug manufacturers to explore ways to reduce or completely remove this side effect. Something you can do to prevent and be aware of ototoxicity is to speak to your doctor about ototoxic medications. When your doctor is prescribing you a new medication, you can ask about side effects, and specifically about the ototoxicity of that medication.

Contact Florida Gulf Coast Hearing Center

At Florida Gulf Coast Hearing Center, our team provides hearing services including hearing evaluations, balance testing, therapeutic programs, and hearing aid evaluations and fittings. Our goal is to diagnose, treat, and prevent hearing loss. To schedule an appointment for ototoxicity evaluation and treatment or to learn more about our services, contact us today at Florida Gulf Coast Hearing Centers.

Hear Better, Live Better