Multiple health conditions have been linked to an increased risk of hearing loss, including high blood pressure and diabetes. Research has shown that patients with cystic fibrosis may be at a higher risk of hearing issues as well.
Cystic Fibrosis and Temporary Hearing Loss
Cystic fibrosis (CF) is an inherited disorder affecting the cells that produce mucus, sweat and digestive juices. One effect of having CF is that your mucus becomes sticky and thick. This can lead to sinus infections and ear infections. Fluid buildup in your ear from an infection can cause muffled hearing or even temporary loss of hearing. As your infection clears up, your hearing should return to normal.
Cystic Fibrosis Treatment Increases Risk of Permanent Hearing Loss
Because of the nature of CF, people with the condition are also more likely to experience severe respiratory infections. These infections are often treated with a class of drugs known as aminoglycoside antibiotics. These medications are powerful and often lifesaving. However, they also are ototoxic, which means they can damage the ear.
In addition to hearing loss, these antibiotics can cause other ear-related issues like tinnitus and balance problems. In some cases, these issues may resolve themselves once you stop taking the medication. Other times, the damage is permanent.
Hearing Screening for Patients with Cystic Fibrosis
Because these antibiotics can significantly increase the risk of hearing issues, researchers have recommended that there be increased hearing screenings in patients with cystic fibrosis who are at a higher risk of experiencing hearing loss.
Among CF patients who may be at most risk for hearing loss include:
- Older patients
- Patients who are frequently hospitalized
When to Get a Hearing Test
Hearing damage from taking an ototoxic medication may not always be noticeable at first. However, it’s important to keep an eye out for early symptoms. Hearing loss is often progressive, and the sooner you get a hearing test and begin treatment, the better your outcome will likely be.
Early signs include:
- Trouble hearing higher-pitched sounds such as birds chirping or the voices of women and children
- You find yourself asking others to repeat themselves often
- You need to turn the volume up louder or the TV or radio than you used to
- Hearing is especially difficult in places with a lot of background noise, such as Taste of Texas Restaurant
- You experience a ringing in your ears (tinnitus)
- Others have commented on your hearing
If you have additional questions or wish to schedule an appointment with one of our experts, call Hearing Systems today.