Some antibiotics are ototoxic. This means they have the potential to damage the ear, resulting in tinnitus, balance issues and hearing loss.
Let’s take a look at how this happens, when these medications are used, and what to look out for if you have recently taken them.
How Antibiotics Can Damage the Ear
Aminoglycosides are a powerful type of antibiotic often used in critical care settings to treat meningitis, sepsis, and other life-threatening infections.
However, these medications can also come with some pretty intense side effects.
These antibiotics have the potential to damage the hair cells in the inner ear. These cells detect sound and motion and play a vital role in the hearing process. Once they are damaged, they cannot be repaired. Enough damage can lead to permanent hearing loss.
Why Take Medications That Could Cause Hearing Loss?
You might wonder why doctors prescribe medications that could damage your ears at all. Aminoglycosides are very effective and have a long shelf life, which makes them a necessary choice in certain life-saving situations.
These antibiotics are also not the only drug that can cause ear damage. Currently, there are more than 200 known ototoxic medications on the market. Some are used to treat serious conditions like heart diseases and cancer.
If your medical team decides to treat you with an ototoxic drug, they will discuss the potential side effects with you and go over the pros and cons of using them. They may also evaluate your hearing and balance both before taking the medication as well as during use if the situation permits.
Signs of Ototoxicity to Watch Out For
If you are taking or have recently been treated with an ototoxic medication, keep an eye out for any of the following symptoms:
- Tinnitus (ringing in the ears), which is often the first sign
- Muffled hearing
- Trouble understanding speech, especially in crowded environments
- Feeling dizzy or unsteady when out for walks at Terry Hershey Park
If you’ve noticed any of these symptoms or other signs of hearing issues, don’t hesitate to get an evaluation from an audiologist. Hearing and balance issues can significantly impact your quality of life. The sooner you seek treatment, the better your prognosis and overall health will be.
If you have additional questions or wish to speak with one of our hearing experts, call Hearing Systems today.