I want to share some info I recently discovered that are known facts in the medical profession but as a drummer, I was totally oblivious to these facts. Tinnitus can occur by taking many common drugs.
Ototoxicity (oto=ear) (toxicity=poison) as itís called, can occur from taking every single over the counter pain reliever and include and may not be limited to; Advil, Excedrin, Aleve, Motrin, Tylenol.
There are at least 1000 medications and chemicals that cause ototoxicity.
There are other known drugs with ototoxic side effects such as nicotine, alcohol, streptomycin, Valium, Paxil, Xanax and many more.
The most ototoxic drugs are mostly antibiotics and diuretics (high blood pressure medication) and NSAID (ibuprofen, acetaminophen). These ototoxic drugs target the inner ear, specifically, the cochlea and the vestibulo-cochlear nerve, impairing hearing and affecting balance.
In the past few years, I've noticed my tinnitus has gotten worse, even by using hearing protection while drumming. To confirm my suspicions, I went to an audiologist and they confirmed that I have mild hearing loss in the right ear and it could be from being on a high blood pressure medication for the past 8 years? They don't know.
Here's a positive note. The hearing test shows NO indications of hearing damage due to prolonged loud noise (drumming), so wearing ear protection for the past 30+ years has helped preserve my hearing.
2009 hearing test (mild hearing loss in right ear at 4k frequency)
2014 hearing test (same results as the 2009 test):
I have experienced these symptoms that indicate early signs of ototoxicity:
- Onset, change in type or worsening of my tinnitus
- Pressure in my ears
- My hearing gets worse or fluctuates
- Vertigo (not too frequent but I have experienced this)
Factors that may have contributed to my hearing loss:
- Long-term, exposure to ototoxic chemicals (my high blood pressure meds 8+ years at 25 miligrams a day)
- Impaired kidney function (kidney failure in 2009 due to allergic reaction to diabetic meds)
- Simultaneous ingestion of multiple ototoxic drugs (pain relievers when needed plus high blood pressure meds)
- Age- (I'm 57)
- Existing hearing loss (2009 and 2014 hearing test)
Ototoxicity is hard to diagnose and is often a diagnosis given when all other factors have been ruled out. But there are a handful of risk factors that you can watch out for but there is currently no cure for permanent ototoxicity. I hope by sharing this information that it may have helped some of you out there understand what other factors that may cause tinnitus. It has certainly opened my ears (sorry) to what may have increased my tinnitus. As far as the audiologist is concerned, my hearing loss does not qualify me for hearing aids....yet.