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Tinnitus From Ototoxicity: Complete List of Medications Linked to Ringing in Ears


While one of the most common tinnitus triggers is loud noises, not everyone realizes that the medication they are taking can cause ringing in the ears. That is because some medications are ototoxic.

If a medication is ototoxic, that means that the medicine is known to cause hearing loss. This hearing impairment can be temporary with some ototoxic medications, but sometimes the effects are permanent. And since hearing loss can trigger tinnitus, ototoxic medication can make your hearing needs more complicated.

Types Of Ototoxic Medications

Medications in general can be hard on our bodies, as many come with health warnings if used for too long. However, a warning you don’t typically see is if a medication is ototoxic. Some of the most common types of ototoxic medications are:

  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) – Medications like ibuprofen and naproxen are some common NSAIDs that you can pick up pretty much anywhere over-the-counter.
  • Aspirin – With aspirin and other painkillers, you are not likely to suffer ototoxic effects unless you are taking large doses over a long period of time.
  • Various antibiotics – There are some antibiotics that can cause permanent ototoxic effects such as neomycin, gentamicin, and streptomycin.
  • Diuretics – Certain medications used to help treat heart failure and high blood pressure are called diuretics and can have an ototoxic effect.
  • Certain cancer treatments – Chemotherapy treatments and associated medications can be hard on the whole body, triggering both hearing loss and tinnitus.

List Of Ototoxic Medicines

There are many medications that are taken every day without knowing that it could be damaging your hearing and cause tinnitus. To help illuminate this issue, here’s a list of some common medications that are ototoxic.

  • Alka-Seltzer (Acetylsalicylic acid)
  • Excedrin Extra Strength (Acetylsalicylic acid)
  • Prozac (Fluoxetine)
  • Benadryl (Diphenhydramine)
  • Depo‐Provera (MEDroxyprogesterone)
  • Ambien (Zolpidem)
  • Fentanyl DFC, PDR
  • Children’s Tylenol (Acetaminophen) AC
  • Humira (Adalimumab)
  • Allegra (Fexofenadine)
  • OxyContin (Oxycodone)
  • Lithane (Lithium)
  • Marijuana (Cannabis sativa)
  • Codeine AHF, NTP
  • Advil (Ibuprofen)
  • Botox (Botulinum Toxin Type A)
  • Penicillamine CPS, PDR
  • Neosporin (Neomycin)

Unfortunately, there are many medications that are classified as ototoxic. The American Tinnitus Association has compiled a complete list of ototoxic medications that you can review.

Protect Your Hearing From Tinnitus And Hearing Loss

Along with being careful about what medications you are intaking, there are other steps you can take to help protect your hearing and prevent hearing loss.

Wear Hearing Protection

A simple step you can take to protect your hearing is to use the right hearing protection, whether that means you use a pair of disposable foam earplugs or electronic earmuffs. Depending on the activity, you may need different levels of hearing protection. You can always consult with our audiologists to determine what type of hearing protection you should use if you are unsure.

Have Regular Hearing Evaluations

If you are concerned that medications you have been taking may have been damaging your hearing, it is a good idea to start having regular hearing evaluations with audiologists. By having your hearing evaluated once a year, you can stay on top of any hearing changes and halt progressive hearing loss.

Also, by addressing your hearing loss early with the proper intervention, you can lower your likelihood of developing tinnitus.

Research Medications

The full warnings for each medication are not necessarily listed on the outside of the bottle. For over-the-counter medications, be sure to research if it is ototoxic, what dosage level is safe, and whether or not the ototoxic effects are temporary. By learning more about the medications you consume, you can better protect your hearing.

As for prescription medication, be sure to discuss your concerns with your prescribing doctor. However, not all doctors know all the side-effects of the medications they prescribe. So, be sure to talk with your pharmacist when you go to fill your prescription.

Utilize Hearing Aids As Needed

Hearing aids can help with not only hearing loss, but these devices can also assist you in managing your tinnitus. Many modern hearing aids come with built-in tinnitus management tools, some of which can be pre-programmed by our audiologists and others which can be attuned to your hearing needs, yet also controlled from your smartphone.

By taking steps to care for your hearing and being careful with what medications you use, you can protect your auditory health more completely.

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