In Some Cases, Hearing Loss Can Be Prevented
These are medications that are toxic to the ears and can cause hearing loss, sometimes accompanied by tinnitus. We may have some options; however, about the medications we take. It is always a good idea to ask a physician if a hearing loss is one of the possible side effects. If it is, and there is a substitute medication that would work just as well, then that would be the one to take.
Examples of Ototoxic Drugs
- some over-the-counter drugs such as aspirin in high doses
- some antibiotics
- some chemotherapy drugs
- loop diuretics
- some anti-inflammatory drugs
Signs of Ototoxicity (in order of frequency)
- Development of tinnitus in one or both ears
- Intensification of existing tinnitus or the appearance of a new sound
- Fullness or pressure in the ears other than being caused by infection
- Hearing loss in an unaffected ear or the progression o an existing loss.
- Development of vertigo or a spinning sensation usually aggravated by motion which may or may not be accompanied by nausea
Noise-Induced Hearing Loss – Completely Preventable
- A major cause of hearing loss in our society is noise exposure. Tiny hair cells in the ear are damaged when assaulted by loud noise. Once those hair cells are destroyed they cannot be replaced.
- A noise-induced hearing loss is the most common cause for its occurrence in our society and it’s completely preventable.
- Repeated and lengthy exposure to loud sound – whether is it music or a jackhammer - will eventually produce a sensorineural hearing loss.
- See the Noise Pollution Infographic to Learn how to Protect Your Ears! Infographic courtesy of ZocDoc.com.
Damage Risk Criterion
As the sound level increases, the time span one can be exposed to it is reduced. Each day we create more hearing losses in our society with our tolerance of the ear-shattering cacophony that surrounds us.
One in Five Adolescents Has Hearing Loss: Ear Buds May Be to Blame
- According to a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association, August 17, 2010, “Listening to loud music through earbuds – the tiny electronic speakers that fit into ears – is probably the main reason that more adolescents are losing some of their hearing.”
- “Once you have a hearing loss, there’s a greater risk of that hearing loss progressing as you get older.” (Dr. Slattery, USC, Los Angeles)
- “Hearing loss may affect teens’ social development and education.” (Gary Curhan, M.D., associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School)
- Parents can begin monitoring the use of personal listening devices by their children. A good rule of thumb is that if the child is wearing earbuds and the parent is able to hear the sound while standing next to them, then the music is too loud.
Protecting Kids’ Hearing: Why it Matters
Get your children involved in their own hearing health. For more resources, go to:
- It’s a Noisy Planet: Protect Their Hearing, NIDCD, National Institutes of Health
Musicians are particularly at risk. It is their job to listen to the sounds that they and their group are producing, and these may be as high as 135 dB. They have no choice but to do this as often as daily; this is their career and their livelihood.
Musicians' earplugs are available that can help. The newest and best version reduces the sound equally all across the spectrum, from low to high frequencies. Everything sounds just as good as it did before, only softer.
A less expensive, though still effective earplug, can be obtained for students in a school music program.
How to Reduce the Damage to Hearing from Noise
Your ears can be your warning system for potentially dangerous noises. The noise is too loud when:
- You have to raise your voice to be understood by someone standing nearby
- The noise hurts your ears
- You develop a buzzing or ringing sound in your ears, even temporarily (indicates some hair cells have died)
- You don't hear as well as you normally do until several hours after you get away from the noise.
How to Protect Yourself When Around Loud Noise
- Block the noise (wear earplugs or earmuffs)
- Avoid the noise (put hands over ears if you can’t walk away)
- Turn down the volume