Do you ever wonder why we have ears? All the important pieces are inside, so why not just have a flat hole in the side of your head?

While ears may not serve as a critical piece to our survival like the heart or the lungs, they have two reasons to exist.

Identifying and modifying risk factors for patients who are in jeopardy of falling can significantly help patients avoid unnecessary, painful and expensive experiences. Often hearing loss and balance difficulties go hand in hand because the inner ear is a complex system that controls both balance and hearing. As we learn more about anatomy and physiology of the inner ear, it becomes clearer that our testing techniques for the balance portion of the inner ear are currently limited and often times not fully covered by insurances such as Medicare.

Sensorineural hearing loss is the most common kind of permanent hearing loss. It’s caused by damage to the inner ear or the nerve pathways that lead from the inner ear to the brain.

Q: How is it caused?big ear

A: Sensorineural hearing loss can be caused by aging, head trauma, viruses, and several types of diseases. Hearing loss caused by exposure to loud noises, also referred to as Noise-Induced Hearing Loss, affects about 26 million Americans. Certain medications can also damage the ear and lead to hearing loss.

Q: How is it treated?

A: Sensorineural hearing loss cannot be reversed, but treatment is available. Many people find hearing aids helpful. Some cases can be treated with surgery, such as when the hearing loss results from trauma. 

Think you might have hearing loss? Contact Parker Center for Audiology and schedule a hearing exam today.

Chemotherapy, herbs, pain killers, anti-depressants, erectile dysfunction medications, salicylates, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, antibiotics, diuretics, quinine, mucosal protectants, narcotic analogesics, vapors, solvents, anti-neoplastics, diuretics, cardiac medications, psychopharmacologic agents, glucocoticosteriods, anesthetics, anti-malarials, alcohol, caffeine, lead, marijuana, nicotine and mercury.

Ototoxic medications and supplements are everywhere. This list is not complete, new items are added every year. Most patients think using hearing protection when in noise is the only way to protect their hearing. They do not realize that what they consume, are prescribed, are exposed to and ingest has just as large an effect on their hearing or tinnitus.

We question patients about medications and supplements to aid us in determining etiology of their issues. However, it is common to get incomplete information from patients. Many patients see multiple doctors who are prescribing multiple medications and no one provider has an accurate knowledge of what the patient is taking, prescribed or over the counter.

When we have complete information it is not uncommon to see tinnitus patients who report the onset of tinnitus to be the same time as when they started a new medication or herbal supplement. Luckily some hearing loss and tinnitus is reversible once the ototoxic substance has been stopped.

Educating patients about their options and the side effects can make a world of difference. We have included a list of medications that are known to cause hearing loss and tinnitus and a link to an updated comprehensive list. We hope this helps you answer any questions patients may ask you about their medications.

Ototoxic Medications; Drugs that can cause hearing loss and tinnitus. The League of Hard of Hearing. 2000.

September is Healthy Aging Month!

Preserving cognition and maintaining independence is a goal of many older adults. Nowadays we see smart phone and tablet applications designed to exercise the brain and ward off dementia. Unfortunately, for patients with hearing loss, they are more likely to score lower on cognitive tests than their normal hearing peers.

In 2011 Frank R. Lin published Hearing Loss and Cognition Among Older Adults in the United States in the Journal of Gerontology. His research found that even a mild hearing loss (25 dB) can result in a cognitive decline that is equal to 7 years of aging.

As medicine has advanced most of us have become accustom to having our healthcare providers write prescriptions to help solve health problems. Low thyroid, take a pill. High cholesterol, take a pill. Low vitamin B, take a pill. High blood pressure, take a pill. Unfortunately, when you have hearing issues, there is not a pill, a supplement or a medication that can be prescribed.

Currently, when you look at the FDA approved treatments for tinnitus there are no medications or supplements that have been confirmed to treat tinnitus. Why? Simply, because they do not provide benefit greater than the placebo effect.