Ototoxicity, literally means: ear poisoning. Chemicals, drugs, and other agents that are known to cause hearing loss, balance disorders, or tinnitus (ringing in the ears) are referred to as ototoxic.

There are over 200 well know, widely used drugs that can cause damage to the hearing system, and that damage usually begins in the high frequencies. This is the hearing range which helps you understand speech, as well as aid in the clarity of certain words. Without the high frequencies, you hear the word but can’t process or understand that word, this is called word discrimination.

Learning if you have high-frequency hearing loss is a part of any 90-minute hearing test performed by an audiologist.

If you currently take prescription drugs, smoke Tobacco or have diabetes or other common diseases, having your hearing tested once a year could help prevent permanent inner ear damage, and will allow for early treatment of hearing loss to prevent the onset of auditory deprivation.

If you are worried about tinnitus or hearing loss as a side effect of your medications, please consult your subscribing physician. Don’t stop taking any medication without first consulting with your healthcare provider. Have your hearing tested. The audiologist you choose should ask about your current prescriptions and will be able to help you monitor your hearing status, as well as advise you on the risks of the medication and provide appropriate management.