by | Nov 7, 2022 | News

While there is a time and place for certain medications, one thing that patients should be aware of is that they all come with potential side effects. Ototoxicity refers to damage of the ear due to medication use. Not all meds contribute to hearing loss, but it is a common side effect of certain prescription and over-the-counter drugs.

Medications that May Cause Ototoxicity

According to Healthline, there are currently more than 200 medications that can cause hearing loss or tinnitus, which refers to a ringing or buzzing in the ear. These drugs are toxic to the auditory nerve or inner ear, and hearing loss often develops over time. Although there are many meds that are ototoxic, there are some ones that people commonly take.


Certain pain meds, such as acetaminophen and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, may cause tinnitus and hearing loss with chronic use. High doses of aspirin can also lead to loss of hearing.

Cancer drugs

Certain chemotherapy drugs may cause ototoxicity. The most ototoxic ones are those prescribed for ovarian, cervical, testicular, colorectal, lung, bladder and breast cancers.


Not all antidepressants lead to hearing problems, and some can even help treat tinnitus. However, some types, including tetracyclic and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors can cause tinnitus. Issues with hearing can also occur when someone stops taking an antidepressant cold turkey.

Blood Pressure Medication

Tinnitus in older individuals sometimes occurs due to high blood pressure. However, certain high blood pressure meds, including ACE inhibitors and beta blockers, may result in tinnitus and hearing loss.


Aminoglycoside antibiotics can cause issues with the ears, including tinnitus and hearing loss. Some of the antibiotics found under this category include neomycin, tobramycin, streptomycin and amikacin.

Strategies to Prevent or Treat Hearing Loss Due to Meds

Not everyone experiences ototoxicity after taking certain medications. However, there are some risk factors that increase the chances, and these include:

  • Reduced ability to eliminate the drug
  • Age
  • Dehydration
  • Taking other ototoxic meds at the same time

Before taking an ototoxic medication, a patient should get a hearing and balance test and retake it  after taking the medication for a month or so. If there are changes, perhaps the prescribing doctor can alter the dose or prescribe an alternative drug.

Hearing loss occurs more often with chronic use of a medication, so short-term use is better. Higher doses are also a risk factor, especially with pain meds.

For those who experience hearing damage from taking medication, the loss may be temporary or permanent. Frequent monitoring should occur. Patients with permanent hearing loss can counteract it with hearing aids, cochlear implants and assistive devices such as text messaging and closed captioning. Treatment for tinnitus may include retraining therapy, masking and cognitive behavioral therapy.

Manage Ototoxicity Symptoms Right Away

If you are taking one of the various medications that can cause hearing loss, the HEAR Center can monitor your hearing so you catch any deviations right away. If you currently suffer hearing issues from meds that you take, HEAR can recommend the most effective treatment and management strategy.

Call or text: (626) 734-6555

Email us at: appointments@hearcenter.org

Chat us: https://direct.lc.chat/13342371/

Also, for more information about Audiology, please visit our webpage: https://www.hearcenter.org/services/audiology/