Drugs That Can Cause Hearing Loss

Drugs That Can Cause Hearing Loss

There are more than 200 drugs with a known link to hearing loss – these medications are known as “ototoxic.” The severity of hearing problems varies depending on the drug, dosage and length it is taken, but generally the risk increases the more the drug accumulates in the body. Hearing loss caused by medications may be temporary or permanent.

Below are some of the types of drugs most commonly linked to ototoxicity. If you are taking any of the below medications, contact your doctor to weigh the risks and benefits and discuss alternatives.

Antibiotics

spilled-bottle-of-yellow-capsule-pills

There are many types of antibiotics, but the class known as aminoglycosides is linked with hearing loss. This type is usually prescribed to treat serious infections like meningitis when other antibiotics prove ineffective. Newborns are particularly at risk and should be screened for hearing loss if they take this drug.

Pain Relievers

OTC pain relievers like aspirin and acetaminophen can cause hearing loss after prolonged use of high doses. In the medical field, these drugs are known as “analgesics” and “non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).” One study published by The American Journal of Medicine found a correlation between use of analgesics and hearing loss in men, and another study found similar results for women. This risk is low if you follow recommendations about dosing, but talk to your doctor if you take these drugs daily.

Diuretics

Diuretics reduce the amount of fluid in the body and are used to treat a variety of conditions, including edema, glaucoma and high blood pressure. These drugs can cause temporary hearing loss and tinnitus; if you experience these symptoms, talk to your doctor.

Chemotherapy Drugs

Cisplatin is a platinum-based chemotherapy drug typically used for bladder, ovarian and testicular cancers that have spread. Hearing loss (temporary or permanent) is one listed side effect, along with tinnitus and vertigo. Researchers at OHSU have uncovered a strong correlation between platinum-based chemotherapy drugs and hearing loss and are currently working to develop a chemotherapy drug that does not have ototoxic effects.

For more information about ototoxic drugs or to schedule an appointment for a hearing test, contact the experts at San Diego Hearing Center.

Mental Health Awareness

May is Mental Health Awareness Month. Lockdowns, stay-at-home orders and social distancing make this a challenging time for all. For those with untreated hearing loss, who are at an even greater risk of developing mental health issues, raising awareness and developing a coping strategy is key.

Social Isolation

Smiling young woman sitting and looking through the window. With long hair, wears denim shirt. Hands on legs.

A report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine and sponsored by AARP Foundation found that about 25 percent of those over the age of 65 lack social contact with others. This number is exacerbated by hearing loss.

Seniors with untreated hearing loss can become frustrated when trying to hear and understand in noisy situations. As a result, they begin avoiding activities, people and places they once enjoyed. One study found that people with untreated hearing loss are significantly less likely to participate in social activities than those who use hearing aids.

Loneliness and social isolation can lead to serious health problems, including:

  • Heart disease
  • Dementia
  • Stroke
  • Depression
  • Stress
  • Early death
  • Hospitalizations

Depression

Untreated hearing loss has been linked with an increased risk of depression. This connection makes sense as hearing loss can make communicating difficult, which in turn can lead to social isolation, stress and fatigue.

One study by the National Council on Aging looked at more than 2,300 people and found that those with hearing loss were 50 percent more likely to experience feelings of sadness and depression. A 2014 study conducted by the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders determined that more than 11 percent of those with hearing loss also had depression as compared to only five percent in the general population.

Cognitive Decline

Untreated hearing loss has long been linked to an increased risk of cognitive decline. Some suspect that untreated hearing loss can reorganize the brain, shrinking the underused areas to devote them to other tasks. This results in a reduction in brain functions such as short-term memory problems or issues with problem-solving skills.

Dr. Frank Lin, at Johns Hopkins University, has conducted a number of studies looking at the connection between untreated hearing loss and cognitive decline. His 2011 study monitored the cognitive abilities of participants for more than 12 years. They found that the worse participants’ hearing loss was at the start of the study, the more likely they were to develop dementia.

In 2013, Lin published a study called Hearing Loss and Cognitive Decline Among Older Adults. He and his team tracked the cognitive abilities of nearly 2,000 adults with an average age of 77. After six years, those who began the study with hearing loss were 24 percent more likely than those with normal hearing to see a decrease in their cognitive abilities.

Treating Hearing Loss

One of the best ways to protect your mental health is to treat your hearing loss. And for most of the 48 million Americans with hearing loss, the best treatment is the use of hearing aids.

Tips for Coping with Hearing Loss During COVID-19

Staying connected and engaged during these difficult times is crucial to your mental health. Below are 10 tips to help keep your spirits up and feel connected.

Video Calls

Staying connected with the ones you love is more important than ever before. There are a number of video calling platforms you can use that make you feel closer than a traditional phone call.

Meditation and Yoga

Meditation and yoga can help reduce stress levels and control anxiety. There are free videos on YouTube for every experience level to fit your needs.

Exercise

While we may not be able to go to the gym, nothing is stopping you from doing a home workout using just your body weight. Exercise releases endorphins, which can make you feel happier.

There are thousands of free workout videos online to fit your mood.

Dance

Dance is an excellent form of exercise and can help reduce stress and improve your mood. Put on your favorite song and dance around your living room.

Go Outside

While many parks are closed, as long as you wear and mask and practice social distancing, it is safe to go out for a walk around your neighborhood. Getting fresh air can help boost your mood.

Clean Your House

There is always housework and chores to be done. Now is the perfect time to go through that junk drawer or dust those high shelves.

Practice Your Cooking Skills

Why not try that complicated recipe you’ve always talked about cooking? If you can get some flour, you can even try your hand at bread making.

Watch a Movie

There are many online streaming platforms that bring the movie theater experience right to your living room. Whether it is a classic that you never got around to seeing or a movie that’s so bad it’s good, watching a movie can take your mind off your troubles, even for just a few hours.

Pamper Yourself

Bring the spa to you. Try your hand at nail art, put on a face mask and light some candles. Now is the time to practice self-care by taking some time just for you.

Join a Virtual Social Group

There are social groups devoted to every topic under the sun. You can connect with people from around the world who share your hobbies and interests right from the comfort of home.

Mental Health Awareness Month is the perfect time to look inward at your own health and reach out to those who may be struggling. Contact San Diego Hearing Center to learn more about the connection between untreated hearing and mental health or to schedule an appointment today.

 

 

 

 

Diseases Linked to Hearing Loss


While hearing loss is usually attributed to old age or noise exposure, there are many other possible causes. In fact, hearing loss is linked to a number of chronic and acute diseases. Knowing which ones have an association with hearing loss will help you take action should you start noticing symptoms.

Heart DiseaseFemale doctor uses a stethoscope to examine elderly patient's heartbeat

Heart disease includes conditions such as high blood pressure, congestive heart failure and coronary artery disease. All of these conditions make it difficult for your heart to pump blood throughout the body, including your inner ears. Inside the inner ear are tiny hair cells called stereocilia, which convert soundwaves into electrical energy that the brain interprets as sound. When these cells don’t receive enough blood flow, they can become damaged. And once damaged, they do not regenerate.

Diabetes

Diabetes is a condition marked by blood sugar levels that are too high. The disease affects about 30 million people in the U.S. Studies show that people with diabetes are twice as likely to develop hearing loss as those without. Researchers theorize that this is due to damage to the blood vessels in the inner ear, the same way heart disease causes damage.

Influenza

Also known as the flu, influenza causes fever, fatigue, body aches and more. What many don’t know is that influenza is associated with both temporary and permanent hearing loss. The flu causes fluid buildup in the tubes in the ears, causing pressure and making sounds feel muffled. In most cases, the fluid goes away once you recover, but some cases can affect the hearing organs directly; if not treated promptly, hearing loss can become permanent.

Meningitis

Meningitis is an inflammation of the membranes surrounding the brain and spinal cord. The cause can be viral, bacterial, fungal or parasitic, and some cases are life-threatening if not treated right away. One of the main side-effects, especially for children, is hearing loss. This is due to inflammation affecting the auditory nerve, which connects the inner ear to the brain. It is estimated that 10 percent of children who have meningitis experience permanent hearing loss afterward.

For more information about the causes of hearing loss or to schedule an appointment, contact the experts at San Diego Hearing Center.

Learn More About Hearing Loss

Which Musicians Are Most at Risk of Hearing Loss?


Multiple studies have confirmed the link between loud music and hearing damage, mostly from attending concerts or playing music through headphones too loudly. However, a 2013 study has examined the link between orchestral musicians and hearing loss. The results are in: French horn players are at the greatest risk for noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL).

About the Study

Man playing the French Horn

The study took place during the International Horn Society’s 2010 meeting in Brisbane, Australia and was published in the spring 2013 edition of the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene. Researchers examined 143 French horn players and found that, for those under the age of 40, there is an 18-33 percent chance of developing noise-induced hearing loss. The study also found that only 18 percent of players wear hearing protection.

“Even within that 18 percent, the use of hearing protection appears to be inadequate with 81 percent of these participants reporting their frequency of use as ‘sometimes’ and 50 percent reporting they use generic, foam or other inferior forms of protection,” explained lead study author Wayne Wilson, senior lecturer of audiology at the University of Queensland.

This also shows that, even when accounting for age-related hearing loss, there is still a significant effect on hearing caused by sound. Authors hope that more orchestra musicians learn from these results and take measures to protect their hearing.

“Our findings also reinforce the need to educate horn players, their mentors and audiologists about the need to protect hearing and how best to achieve this while still enabling musicians to play to the highest level,” said Ian O’Brien, doctoral student researcher at the University of Sydney and professional French horn player. “Even mild hearing loss can result in difficulties discriminating pitch, abnormal loudness growth and tinnitus, all of which can affect a musician’s ability to perform, subsequently jeopardizing his or her livelihood.”

Other NIHL-Causing Instruments

While French horns were the focus of this study, many instruments put your hearing at risk. Here are some common instruments and their decibel outputs:

  • Trombone: 85 to 114 db
  • Flute: 85 to 111 db
  • Cello: 82 to 92 db
  • Clarinet: 92 to 103 db
  • Piano (normal practice): 60 to 70 db
  • Piano (fortissimo): 84 to 103 db
  • Oboe: 90 to 94 db

For reference, any sound over 85 dB can cause damage over time.

For more information or to schedule an appointment for custom musician’s plugs, call San Diego Hearing Center today.

Learn More About Hearing Loss

COVID-19

As you know, we are in the midst of a pandemic caused by the COVID-19 virus. As a health care facility, we have an obligation to serve our patients while at the same time doing our best to limit the spread of this highly contagious disease.

We have instituted the following internal policies to limit patient and staff exposure to COVID-19 by:

  • Asking patients who are feeling unwell and exhibiting flu-like symptoms to reschedule appointments. There will be no penalty to reschedule.
  • Increasing our already rigorous cleaning and sanitization protocols.
  • Providing additional sanitization stations throughout our practice.
  • Monitoring the health and well-being of our staff and providers closely.
  • Working with the Centers for Disease Control, the World Health Organization and other government officials to follow recommended guidelines.
  • Continuing to monitor the situation and implementing additional measures as needed.

We will do our best to accommodate the needs of our patients and continue to provide the exceptional care you are accustomed to.

The virus can spread from person to person and symptoms include fever, cough and shortness of breath.

To prevent potential exposure and transmission of this virus, limit accompanying family or friends to your office appointment or procedure.

To reduce your risk of any infection, we recommend the same precautions as for avoiding the common cold and flu:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Implement physical (social) distancing of 6 feet.

If you recently traveled to China, Iran, Japan, South Korea, New York City or Europe and have a fever, cough or shortness of breath:

  • Seek medical care right away. Before you go to a doctor’s office or emergency room, call ahead and tell them about your recent travel and symptoms.
  • Stay home after you have been seen by a medical provider and avoid contact with others until you are well.
  • Avoid travel on public transportation (such as bus, train, subway, metro or airplane).
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing.
  • Wash hands often with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.

To read more on the CDC website, click here.

Keeping Hearing Aids Safe from Pets

Keeping your hearing aids away from pets is very important for two reasons: 1. Hearing aids are a significant investment in money and time, and 2. Hearing aid batteries are toxic to pets. Below are some tips for keeping your hearing aids stored safely away from your furry friends.

Use a Hearing Aid Storage Case

dog face

Most hearing aids come with a protective case so you can keep them safe in your purse, pocket, bag or drawer until you need them next. Rechargeable devices in particular come with charging cases that are perfect for helping you keep track of your devices while also providing a charge so you can continue using them. If you for some reason never received or lost the storage case for your devices, it’s imperative to replace it as soon as possible.

Whether you have a pet or not, a storage case keeps your devices together in the same place and protected from the elements. Even if your pet does get ahold of the storage case, the chance of them getting it open or damaging what’s inside is much slimmer than if the devices are out in the open.

Consider Storage Location

People without pets can keep their hearing aids anywhere that is cool, dry and safe, such as on the nightstand readily available for when they wake up or near the front door as a reminder to put them on before leaving the house. However, people with pets need to take extra precaution of where to place their devices, even if they’re in a storage case.

It may seem like a bathroom counter or high windowsill would be a good place for a hearing aid wearing pet owner, but that is not the case. Bathrooms are warm and humid, and hearing aids can be easily knocked into the toilet or sink. Windows are also not a good option because direct sunlight can damage the devices.

Instead, you can opt to store your devices in a nightstand drawer, jewelry box, sock drawer or on a tall dresser/shelf to make sure your pets stay away from them.

In Case of Emergency

If your pet does get ahold of your devices, there are some important steps to take. First, identify the level of damage of your devices. If they are simply damp from slobber or from getting knocked into a sink, wipe them off and place them in a dehumidifier. If there is visible damage, take them to an audiologist.

If your pet has eaten a battery or other part of a hearing aid, call your veterinarian right away. Do not get angry or punish your dog, as this will only confuse and possibly traumatize them. Remember that hearing aids can be replaced, but your best friend cannot.

For more information about proper storage for your devices, call San Diego Hearing Center today.

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7 Reasons to Get a Hearing Test

Hearing loss affects more than 48 million people and is the third most common chronic health condition among U.S. adults, after arthritis and heart disease. Hearing loss, in most cases, is also easy to treat with hearing aids. If you suspect you may have hearing loss, here are seven reasons you should finally schedule a hearing exam.

pencil sitting on a filled out form

1. Hearing Tests Are Quick & Easy

Hearing tests are totally painless and typically take less than an hour to complete. Also, most insurance companies fully cover hearing tests, so yours should be free.

2. Untreated Hearing Loss Is Linked to Cognitive Decline

A number of studies by Johns Hopkins have shown a strong link between untreated hearing loss and cognitive decline. People with moderate hearing loss were shown to have three times higher risk of developing dementia than those with normal hearing. Fortunately, a more recent study has shown that treating hearing loss can reverse cognitive decline.

3. Hearing Loss Can Be a Warning Sign

Besides dementia, a number of other conditions have been linked to hearing loss. Hearing loss can indicate the presence of cardiovascular disease, diabetes and more. Identifying hearing loss may be the first step in diagnosing an underlying condition.

4. Poor Hearing = Poor Balance

If you can’t hear well, you’re less aware of your surroundings, making you more susceptible to falls and other accidents. In addition, the inner ear is responsible for not only helping you hear, but also for helping you balance. If your inner ear is malfunctioning, balance problems may result.

5. Treating Hearing Loss Means More Social Interactions

When people experience hearing loss, they may unknowingly withdraw from social interactions they once found enjoyable. Having conversations in restaurants, talking on the phone and attending religious services can all be much more difficult if your hearing loss goes undiagnosed and untreated.

6. More Social Interactions Decreases Risk of Depression

People who withdraw socially are more likely to experience depression. Hearing loss can impact many aspects of your life, including your relationships, confidence and job performance – all of which are factors in mental and emotional wellbeing.

7. Baseline Hearing Tests Are Important

Even if you pass your hearing test with flying colors, it’s important to have a baseline hearing test as a point of reference. As you age, your chances of developing hearing loss increase exponentially. Having a baseline test can help your provider monitor any changes in your hearing over time.

Remember, there is nothing to lose by getting a hearing test! To schedule yours, call San Diego Hearing Center today!

Resolve to Treat Your Tinnitus

This year, do something for you – resolve to finally treat the ringing in your ear. Tinnitus is the sensation of hearing a buzzing, ringing, hissing, chirping or whistling in the ear. Even though tinnitus is common – the American Tinnitus Institute estimates that more than 45 million Americans experience the condition – many choose not to seek treatment.

Below is a list of steps for treating your tinnitus.

Step One: Diagnosis

large bell

Before your audiologist can create a customized treatment plan, your tinnitus must be diagnosed. This includes:

Step Two: Determine the Cause

Once your doctor has confirmed you are experiencing tinnitus, they will try to determine the cause. A variety of conditions and illnesses include tinnitus as a common symptom, including:

  • A buildup of earwax
  • Certain drugs (aspirin and some antibiotics)
  • Natural aging process
  • Meniere’s disease, an inner ear disorder
  • High blood pressure
  • Neck or jaw problems
  • Head and neck injuries
  • Prolonged exposure to loud sounds

Step Three: Create a Treatment Plan

While some of these causes, such as taking a certain medication or a buildup of earwax, can be treated, many cannot. Because of this, tinnitus treatment is focused on managing symptoms, rather than eliminating the noise.

Hearing Aids

Nearly 90 percent of those with tinnitus also experience hearing loss. Simply turning up the volume on the hearing aids you already own can help drown out the tinnitus.

Masking Devices

Similar to hearing aids, masking devices sit in the ear and work by playing a pleasant tone to cover up the tinnitus.

Tinnitus Retraining Therapy (TRT)

TRT focuses on your brain’s ability to habituate, or filter out, sounds on a subconscious level so they do not reach conscious perception. Background sounds are deemed unimportant by your brain, such as a computer fan or the hum of a refrigerator, and they are not perceived as loud. Your brain is screening the sounds out.

There are two versions of therapy. The patient can play a neutral sound everywhere they go or they can receive one-on-one counseling to train their brain.

Cognitive Therapy

Counselors can help you modify your reaction to tinnitus. When combined with other therapies, such as masking devices, this treatment is quite effective.

Lifestyle Changes

While there is no research validating vitamin supplements or alternative therapies as effective tinnitus treatments, many find that including ginkgo biloba, zinc and magnesium in their diets can be helpful. Acupuncture, meditation, magnets and even hypnosis are also used to varying degrees of success.

The tinnitus treatment that is right for you is out there. Now is the time to find it. Contact San Diego ENT today.

 

Why Do My Ears Ring After a Concert?


Your inner ears contain tiny hair cells, called stereocilia, that translate soundwaves into electrical energy that is then transmitted through the auditory nerve to the brain. When you attend a concert or any other event that exposes you to loud noises, you can harm those little hairs. Once damaged, they can misfire, sending made-up sound signals to your brain. The resulting ringing in your ears is called tinnitus.

How Can I Make It Stop?

rock conert

While there is no medical cure for tinnitus, there are strategies to help lessen the discomfort.

Keep the Volume Down

The last thing you want is to cause more damage to your hearing. For the next few days, be especially careful to keep the volume low on your headphones and TV speakers. Try to avoid noisy venues like restaurants or bars.

Distract Yourself

The more you think about your tinnitus, the more uncomfortable you’ll be. Try meditation, yoga or other gentle exercise to clear your mind and relax your body.

Play White Noise

White noise apps like Noisli can help mask the sounds of tinnitus. The same effect can be achieved by turning on a fan or humidifier.

Avoid Possible Triggers

Tinnitus can be worsened by alcohol, caffeine, sodium, tobacco and certain medications like aspirin. Try to avoid these substances.

How Loud Is Too Loud?

Any sound above 85 dB can cause permanent damage to your hearing. For reference, 85 dB is about the volume of heavy traffic or a busy restaurant. Most concerts clock in at a whopping 100-105 dB, which can cause irreversible damage to your auditory system after just 15 minutes of exposure.

If your tinnitus doesn’t go away after a couple days, it’s possible that permanent damage has occurred. An audiologist can help identify any hearing loss or other potential causes for your tinnitus.

Preventing Tinnitus

Before your next concert, consider investing in a set of musician’s earplugs. These devices can be custom-made for maximum comfort, and are perfect for music aficionados because they block unsafe noise levels while still providing crystal-clear sound quality.

To learn more about custom hearing protection, talk to a provider at San Diego Hearing Center today!

How to Make Shopping with Hearing Loss Less Stressful

With the big day less than two weeks away — and if you have to ask “what big day?” then the situation is especially dire for you — we hope you have finished your holiday shopping (or at least made a significant dent in it). If you are one of the thousands of people with hearing loss in San Diego, you may be dreading a trip to the mall. Don’t worry; we’ve got some tips to help make your shopping experience more jolly.

Plan Ahead to Make Your Trip Hassle-Free

woman holding shopping bags inside a mall

Let’s face it, even under the best of circumstances, a shopping trip this time of year can be stressful. You’ve got crowded parking lots, wall-to-wall shoppers, ornery cashiers and ever-present background noise to deal with. The only thing worse than hearing “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer” is hearing a muzak version of “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer.” It’s no wonder you’ve been putting off that trip to the store!

But with a little advance planning, your shopping trip won’t be as bad as you fear. Your San Diego audiologist offers the following tips to shoppers with hearing loss.

Tips for Shoppers With Hearing Loss

  • Support small businesses. Bigger isn’t always better; when it comes to shopping, think small. Supporting mom-and-pop businesses won’t only provide a boost to the local economy, but it’s less stressful if you’re shopping with hearing loss. Big box retailers often have screaming deals, but they may be accompanied by screaming kids – whom you won’t be able to escape thanks to store layouts with open spaces that favor poor acoustics. Plus, larger stores attract more people, which only increases your stress and discomfort. Smaller, locally owned stores tend to be less crowded…and easier on your ears.
  • Utilize hearing loops. If you wear hearing aids, switch the telecoil setting on to take advantage of loop induction systems found in many large public places, including department stores and shopping malls. Hearing loops broadcast clear sound free of distraction directly to your hearing aids, eliminating background noise. Most stores with loop systems will display the international symbol of access for hearing loss (an ear bisected by a diagonal line), usually in the window or door. If you don’t see a sign, ask a clerk or store manager if there is a loop system available.
  • Use a streaming device. Portable streaming devices improve the efficiency of your hearing aids by increasing their battery life and eliminating the need for a receiver, making them more lightweight. When you’ve got a full day’s worth of shopping to do, every ounce counts! Streamers help prevent you from getting too tired and eliminate distracting background noise, allowing you to hear more clearly.
  • Plan your trip in advance. Before you leave home, come up with a game plan. Map out the stores on your list in advance so you can get in and out as quickly as possible. It also helps to study the store layout, so you’ll know exactly where to go once you get there. This eliminates any conversation difficulties with store clerks when asking for help. Bring along a friend or family member to assist with communication and keep you informed of store announcements. Bribing them with a treat from the food court often helps. Make sure your hearing aid batteries are fully charged before heading out and bring along extras just in case.
  • Shop online. If the idea of heading out to a busy store to shop is simply too overwhelming, save yourself the hassle by shopping from the comfort of your own home. Online retailers like Amazon carry virtually everything you could possibly want and prices are usually competitive. You won’t have to battle for that last parking spot or jostle your way through noisy crowds. And you can’t beat the convenience of having items delivered directly to your front door!

For more tips on shopping with hearing loss, contact an audiologist in San Diego.