Global problem of drug-induced hearing loss

Edoardo Arslan, Eva Orzan, Rosamaria Santarelli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Clinically used drugs and chemical agents may potentially cause adverse effects to the human auditory and vestibular systems. Many of them, such as aminoglycosides and cisplatin, can play a critical role in the treatment of serious or life-threatening diseases; others, like loop diuretics or salycilates, offer such important therapeutical effects compared to the ototoxic side effects that the ototoxicity risk can be considered to be of minor importance. The problem of ototoxic side effects is more acute in developing countries, where highly effective and low-cost drugs are more easily prescribed without adequate monitoring. Medical awareness of doses, forms of administration, populations at risk, and possible synergism is necessary in order to develop appropriate care in the prescription of drugs with ototoxic side effects. Relatively recent issues such as risk-benefit analysis, patient-informed consent, and quality-of-life considerations, particularly when life expectancy can be low, are also to be considered. At present, a uniform method of monitoring for all potentially ototoxic therapeutics does not seem reasonable or practical. It is recommended, however, that individual auditory function be noted for a particular drug being employed. Protocols and exams should be easy, quick, sensitive, reliable, and as objective as possible. Benefits of audiological monitoring include the opportunity to change the patient's treatment course, improvement of patient and family awareness of the impact of hearing impairment, and timely prescription of amplification devices. Finally, particular attention should be paid to high-risk populations such as neonatal intensive care unit patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-14
Number of pages14
JournalAnnals of the New York Academy of Sciences
Publication statusPublished - 1999

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)


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