Some Medication can Damage Hearing – Ototoxicity

Medication that can damage hearing - Ototoxicity - audiologist in pretoria

What is Ototoxicity?


Certain medications can damage the ear, resulting in hearing loss, ringing in ear, or balance disorders.  These drugs are considered Ototoxic.

Factors affecting Ototoxicity include:


  • Co-administration with other drugs having ototoxic potential
  • Dose
  • Duration of therapy
  • Concurrent renal failure
  • Infusion rate
  • Lifetime dose
  • Genetic susceptibility


Some Drugs that Cause Ototoxicity include:                                                       

  • Antibiotics
  • Aminoglycosides
  • Vancomycin
  • Chemotherapeutic drugs
  • Platinum containing drugs eg. Cisplatin
  • Diuretics
  • Ethacrynic acid
  • Flurosemide
  • Malaria medicine
  • Quinine
  • Salicylates


  • Ototoxic antibiotics should be avoided during pregnancy.
  • Elderly and people with pre-existing hearing loss should not be treated with ototoxic drugs if other effective drugs are available.
  • The lowest effective dosage of ototoxic drug should be used and levels should be closely monitored.
  • The risk of ototoxicity increases with the use of multiple drugs with ototoxic potential.
  • If possible before treatment with an ototoxic drug, hearing should be tested and then monitored during treatment.