5 Drugs That Can Trigger Hearing Loss


As a society, we have come to accept that most drugs have side effects. One factor in this acceptance is the fact that these effects are, on the whole, mild. You might experience itching, nausea, and, in some cases, vomiting. Considering the fact that the alternative might involve suffering from something more severe, these side effects aren’t too frightening. 

However, there are a few instances where the side effects are a little too serious for comfort. One such example would be hearing loss. The worst part? Several drugs can trigger it. This article aims to explore five types of drugs known for their hearing-loss-inducing characteristics. 


1. Aminoglycoside Antibiotics

Aminoglycosides are a class of antibiotics that are primarily used to combat gram-negative bacterial infections. They have been a cornerstone in the treatment of such infections for many years. However, their widespread use has been accompanied by growing concerns about their side effects, particularly ototoxicity. Studies by Fu, Wan, et al. also confirm this. 

Ototoxicity refers to drug- or chemical-related damage to the inner ear. It can lead to either temporary or permanent hearing loss, tinnitus (ringing in the ears), or even balance problems. Aminoglycosides have been identified as one of the primary culprits of drug-induced ototoxicity. 

Ototoxic drugs, including aminoglycosides, mainly affect the hair cells in the inner ear. According to an article published in the American Journal of Audiology, these hair cells are critical for our hearing. Once damaged, they do not regenerate in mammals, leading to permanent hearing loss. 


2. Tepezza

Tepezza is a monoclonal antibody used primarily for treating thyroid eye disease (TED). The therapeutic prowess of Tepezza is rooted in its mechanism of action, which targets a specific molecular pathway implicated in the pathogenesis of TED. 

Through IGF-1R inhibition, Tepezza exerts anti-inflammatory and anti-fibrotic effects. It helps to curtail the inflammation and tissue remodeling around the eyes, which are hallmarks of TED.

Unfortunately, one of the side effects of this drug is hearing loss. In fact, there have been several Tepezza hearing loss lawsuit cases filed against Horizon Therapeutics, the manufacturer. 

According to TorHoerman Law, U.S. District Judge Thomas Durkin hopes to start a bellwether program due to the number of lawsuits. Such a program would take on a select number of cases for review, with the results influencing how other lawsuits are handled. 


3. Chemotherapy Drugs

Chemotherapy is a widely used treatment method for various types of cancer. While it has been instrumental in improving survival rates and outcomes for many cancer patients, these drugs come with a range of side effects. Data shows that more than half of cancer survivors who underwent chemotherapy treatment experienced clinically significant hearing loss and tinnitus post-treatment.

For instance, Cisplatin, a common chemotherapy drug, is known to contribute to hearing loss. Research found that Cisplatin remains in the cochlea for months and even years after treatment in both mice and humans. 


4. Loop Diuretics

Loop diuretics are a class of medications widely used in the management of fluid overload conditions. These include heart failure, chronic kidney disease, and edema, which have been associated with auditory complications, notably hearing loss.

Their mechanism of action primarily revolves around inhibiting the sodium-potassium-chloride cotransporter 2 (NKCC2) through a process that fosters diuresis. This refers to the increased production of urine in order to facilitate the elimination of excess fluid from the body.

Loop diuretics like furosemide (Lasix) and bumetanide are commonly prescribed for conditions like hypertension and edema. 

However, they can also cause either temporary or permanent hearing loss. If you’re prescribed loop diuretics, discuss the risks with your healthcare provider and consider regular audiological evaluations.


5. Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs)

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are a class of analgesics and anti-inflammatory agents, known for their ability to cause several adverse effects. One of these is the potential for hearing loss.  

According to a study by Harvard Health, women who took pain relievers (including NSAIDs) at least twice a week were more likely to experience hearing loss. This risk increases with more frequent usage and can be as high as 24%​.

The mechanism underlying these effects primarily revolves around the inhibition of enzymes known as cyclooxygenases (COX). However, the inhibition of prostaglandin synthesis can also lead to altered blood flow within the cochlea, the auditory component of the inner ear. The cochlea is a highly vascularized structure, and any perturbation in its blood supply can potentially engender hearing impairment.



The medications discussed in this article are invaluable for treating various medical conditions, but their ototoxic potential cannot be overlooked. It’s crucial to consult healthcare professionals for personalized medical advice and to undergo audiological evaluations if you’re taking or planning to take any of these medications. 


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