Close up of colorful medications that can cause hearing loss.

It’s natural to want to learn about the side effects of a medication when you begin taking it. Can it cause digestive issues? Will it cause your mouth to dry out? Cause insomnia? You might not even be aware of some of the more impactful side effects, such as hearing loss. Lots of different medications are known to trigger this condition which medical professionals label as ototoxicity.

So can this problem be caused by a lot of medications? The answer is uncertain, but there are lots that are known to cause ototoxic symptoms. So, which ones should you watch out for and why?

Ototoxicity – what you should know

How can a medication wreak havoc on your ears after you take it? There are three distinct places certain drugs can harm your hearing:

  • The stria vascularis: The stria vascularis is the portion of the cochlea that generates fluid called endolymph. Both balance and hearing are impacted by too much or too little endolymph.
  • The vestibule of the ear: This is the part of the ear situated in the middle of the labyrinth that composes the cochlea. Its main function is to manage balance. When a medication produces an ototoxic response to the vestibule of the inner ear, you can experience balance problems and the feeling that the room is spinning.
  • The cochlea: The cochlea is part of the inner ear, shaped like a seashell, that converts sound waves into electrical signals which your brain translates into the perception of sound. Damage to the cochlea impacts the range of sound you can hear, usually starting with high frequencies then expanding to include lower ones.

What is the risk level for each drug?

The checklist of medications that can cause temporary or permanent hearing loss may surprise you. Ototoxic medications are rather common and most individuals have a few of them in their medicine cabinets right now.

Over-the-counter pain medications like the following top the list:

  • Naproxen
  • Ibuprofen

You can add salicylates to the list, which is aspirin. When you quit taking these drugs, your hearing will usually go back to normal.

Antibiotics come in as a close second for common ototoxic medications. You may have heard of some of these:

  • Tobramycin
  • Streptomycin
  • Kanamycin

There are also a number of other compounds that can induce tinnitus

Some drugs may cause tinnitus and others could lead to loss of hearing. Here are some ways tinnitus might present:

  • A whooshing sound
  • Thumping
  • Popping
  • Ringing

Various diuretics can also result in tinnitus, including brand names Lasix, Bumex, and Diamox but the leading offenders in this category are things like:

  • Tonic water
  • Marijuana
  • Caffeine
  • Nicotine

You may not realize that the cup of coffee or black tea in the morning can cause ringing in your ears. Here’s the good news, it should clear up after the chemical is out of your system. Ironically, some drugs doctors prescribe to treat tinnitus are also on the list of possible causes such as:

  • Amitriptyline
  • Prednisone
  • Lidocaine

Usually, the tinnitus will end when you stop taking the medication but always talk to your doctor, they will know what’s best for you.

Ototoxicity has specific symptoms

The signs or symptoms of tinnitus vary depending on your ear health and which medication you get.

Be on guard for:

  • Difficulty walking
  • Vomiting
  • Blurred vision
  • Hearing loss on one or both sides
  • Tinnitus
  • Poor balance

Be certain that you consult your doctor about any side effects the medication they prescribed may have, including ototoxicity. If you experience ototoxicity we suggest that you contact your doctor to report your symptoms, they will know what’s best.

Also, schedule a hearing exam with us, a baseline hearing test is a practical measure that can help you preserve good hearing health throughout your life.

Call Today to Set Up an Appointment


The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.

Call or text for a no-obligation evaluation.

Schedule Now

Call us today.

Schedule Now