Asbjoern Andersen


We all know that loud noises can permanently damage our hearing - but that off-the-shelf drugs like aspirin can cause hearing damage is news to me. Here, Karen Collins sheds light on this overlooked risk:
Written by Karen Collins
Please share:
 

I’ve never heard anyone speak of what may be even more commonly damaging their ears: medications.

Surprisingly, hearing damage isn’t something we often talk or write about in the world of audio. If anything, we associate hearing damage with loud sounds, and we all know to take precautions against any sounds that may cause damage to our delicate and precious organs. We have SPL meters on our phones and gracefully excuse ourselves from situations that top 90dB, knowing that we may be risking some damage if we stay. We use ear muffs when we’re out recording loud sounds. But I’ve never heard anyone speak of what may be even more commonly damaging their ears: medications.

This includes common drugs like aspirin, acetaminophen (paracetamol), and ibuprofen, but also other painkillers, anti-depressants, antibiotics, and other medications.

Medications that damage hearing are called ototoxic (“oto” meaning “ear” and toxic meaning poisonous!). Our ears are very delicate and sensitive organs, and any medication may have some impact on your hearing. You have most likely taken some ototoxic medications without even knowing it. And for the most part, you probably got away with it. But taking any medication for a long period of time, or in large quantities, can cause permanent, irreversible hearing loss. This includes common drugs like aspirin, acetaminophen (paracetamol), and ibuprofen, but also other painkillers, anti-depressants, antibiotics, and other medications. We rarely read the fine print in taking medications (particularly those we buy off-the-shelf like aspirin), assuming that these are safe if they’re sold in stores everywhere. If we do read the fine print, we assume that the effects are rare. But millions of people are affected by ototoxic medications every single year. Some drugs have an almost 100% guarantee of causing hearing loss! Are you willing to take that risk and potentially do permanent damage to your hearing? I’m not a medical doctor, but I put together this brief guide to raise awareness—talk to your own doctor if you take any medication regularly.
 

How do I know if I’m taking an ototoxic drug?

There are 743 known ototoxic drugs. There is a list of a few here.

Just because a drug is not on that list does not mean it is not ototoxic. Acetaminophen is not on the list, but two studies, in 2010 and 2012, found that acetaminophen is even more toxic than Aspirin and NSAIDs. It is even worse when taken in combination with painkillers (as in the case of Vicodin. I’m always surprised when rock stars get addicted to a drug that will likely cause permanent hearing damage).

There are some studies that suggest that other medications may help to offset the effects (such as melatonin with certain ototoxic anti-cancer drugs)

The first sign of ototoxicity is usually tinnitus (ringing or buzzing in the ears). Other symptoms include light-headedness, vertigo, and hearing loss. If you experience symptoms, talk to your doctor about your medications and if you can, lower the dosage or find an alternative. There are some studies that suggest that other medications may help to offset the effects (such as melatonin with certain ototoxic anti-cancer drugs) . Often the symptoms will go away once the drug has cleared your system. However, sometimes, the damage will be permanent and there is no cure and no treatment to reverse the damage.
 


Popular on A Sound Effect right now - article continues below:

 

Latest releases:  
  • Vehicles Skate on Board Play Track 112 sounds included, 22 mins total $49.99

    Skate on Board is an SFX library with the purpose of bringing alive the hidden sounds of skateboarding. This library has 65 stereo recordings with the best sound quality of actions such as jumps, pass by, and grinds over different surfaces like concrete banquets, and rail tubes. Furthermore, this library contains 47 mono audios of P.O.V perspectives which were reordered with different microphones attached to the skateboard to capture the full maneuvers and details of skateboarding.

    Add to cart
  • The west is still wild.  A collection of clean and loopable natural ambient atmosphere elements – each 3 minutes long. This collection represents my best content and works great in multitrack layers.

    The core of this collection are natural sounds captured in the wilds of Oregon, USA – Western North America. The wildlife in the forests, streams, lakes, coast, and deserts of Oregon are a good substitute for most US and Canadian states west of the Rocky Mountains, including Washington, California, Nevada, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico, Utah, Arizona, Colorado, British Colombia, Alberta, Alaska, and Wyoming.

    These recordings are from a pristine environment that avoid any human caused sounds.

    22 %
    OFF
    Ends 1566943200
    Add to cart
  • Animals & Creatures Broken Robot Play Track 87 sounds included $12.99 $6.99

    This library is a small “utility” collection of sounds great for use as Robot/Machines but also great for UI and Weapon design elements.  Servos, various metal objects and analog synths were recorded as source material to create this library.  The library includes raw servo recordings and meticulously performed or designed robotic/machine-like sounds.

    Bonus – Forge Sound Design Tool Sample Map

    If you own the Forge Sound Design Toolkit this library also comes with a specially curated sample map.  The sample map can be loaded into the sampler for randomization and the creation of more complex sounds.

    46 %
    OFF
    Ends 1566943200
    Add to cart
  • Electricity Electric Arcs and Energy Play Track 266 sounds included $39.99 $19.99

    Electric Arcs and Energy is essentially two separate collections of sounds.  The first, Electrical Arcs are more raw.  These arc sounds can be manipulated and mangled to be used as design elements in your project.  They are highly flexible and can easily be pitch-shifted -48 semitones or more.  They remain remarkably useful and clean giving each sound multiple “dimensions”.

    The Electrical Energy collection is a series of more specified design elements that I created – Impacts and Powerups.  Meant to be used in Weapon or UI design they should be flexible enough to be used as stand-alone effects or layers in more complex sounds.

    Recording and Editing

    This library was designed from scratch by recording highly unconventional metal sources with a cello bow and processing them (see one example in video). Great care was taken during the recording and editing process to ensure maximum flexibility of these sounds.  The recording was done at 24/192kHz using the Sennheiser MKH 2050 mic which captures frequencies up to 50kHz.  All processing and design was then performed at 192kHz.

    Bonus – Forge Sound Design Tool Sample Map

    If you own the Forge Sound Design Toolkit this library also comes with a specially curated sample map.  The sample map can be loaded into the sampler for randomization and the creation of more complex sounds.

     

    50 %
    OFF
    Ends 1566943200
    Add to cart
  • Whooshes liftFX Play Track 275+ sounds included $89 $71.20

    AWE YOUR AUDIENCE WITH RISERS, BUILD-UPS, DROPS AND MORE.
    Risers, build-ups, drops, breaks, downlifters, swells, sweeps, falls – it has never been so easy to hype your audience. Forget samples, just turn the knob or let liftFX even do that for you, automatically, in beat sync at the length you need it to be.

    KEY FEATURES:

    • Playable in real-time with instant auditive and visual feedback
    • Any length, tempo, pitch range and root note possible
    • Tempo sync or time (s) duration
    • Control key parameters independently or automatically (+ reversed)
    • Automation and modwheel (cc1) support for each parameter
    • 275 nifty presets included
    • Optional time lock and control lock to try different presets with current setting
    • High cut and low cut filters, reverb and delay
    • Lightweight plug-in, as it relies on synthesis
    USE CASES:

    • Build captivating uplifters, downlifters, drops, rhythmic, percussive builds and more effects out of the box
    • Any electronic genre such as EDM, Trap, Dubstep, Pop, Hip Hop, Drum’n’Bass, House, Techno, and more
    • Cinematic and experimental sound design
    • Beef up your synthesizers with tonal layers or harmonic overtones to achieve a fat, rich sound
    • liftFX requires a free iLok account (click to learn more)
    20 %
    OFF
    Ends 1567116000
    Add to cart

Need specific sound effects? Try a search below:
 

What should I do to protect my hearing?

Be aware of ototoxic medications. If you are on any medication known to be ototoxic, talk to your doctor about finding an alternative. Avoid taking any painkillers if you can tough it out, since pretty much all analgesics and anti-inflammatories are known to be ototoxic. If you are on medication and you get tinnitus, weigh the pros and cons of the medication and talk to your doctor. Let your doctor know that you work in sound and you don’t want to take any ototoxic medications unless absolutely necessary. Do your own research and educate yourself on the risks and benefits of any medication.
 
A drug I take is not on the list of ototoxic medications, but I still have tinnitus.

Talk to your doctor and ask if the drug may be ototoxic. Remember, just because it’s not on the list does not make it safe, and your doctor may not be aware of the risks. Do a Google Scholar search through medical journals and see if others have reported hearing loss or tinnitus with your medication. It could be it’s just not reported, yet, but it may be ototoxic.

Left untreated, and with continued use, ototoxic medications can lead to permanent hearing damage. Be aware. Be careful taking any drug, and let your friends in the audio world know about ototoxicity. Take your health into your own hands and become knowledgeable about your ears.

 

A big thanks to Karen Collins for the insights on this overlooked risk!

 

Please share this:


 


 
 
THE WORLD’S EASIEST WAY TO GET INDEPENDENT SOUND EFFECTS:
 
A Sound Effect gives you easy access to an absolutely huge sound effects catalog from a myriad of independent sound creators, all covered by one license agreement - a few highlights:
 
 
  • City Life Collected Ambiences Play Track 33-380 sounds included From: $30 From: $15

    Each SFX library in the “Collected Ambiences” series features 33 Stereo Ambiences from many different locations.
    The series includes ambiences such as Public Spaces, Roomtones, Drones, Forests, City, Train, Bus ride, Rain and many (many!) more.

    Collected Ambiences highlights:

    Vol 1: Airplane Landing/Take Off, Backyards, City, Car Wash, Residential Area, Construction Site, Birds, Fireworks, Crowd, Train, Roomtone and more. 33 files, 3.85 GB, 111 minutes

    Vol 2: Car Wash, Chop Shop, Backyard, City, Residential Area, Fireworks, Construction Site, Supermarket, Train, Roomtone and more. 33 files, 3.58 GB, 103 minutes

    Vol 3: City, Birds, Crows, Pedestrian Area, Residential Area, Bus, Roomtone, Village Fair, Weekly Market, Roomtone and more. 33 files, 3.45 GB, 100 minutes

    Vol 4: City, Traffic, Birds, Funfair, Pedestrian Area, Residential Area, Bus, Roomtone, Shopping Mall, Train, Roomtone, Drone and more. 33 files, 4,69 GB, 136 minutes

    Vol 5: City, Park, Train Station, Plaza, Birds, Crows, Pedestrian Area, Residential Area, Bus, Roomtone, Village Fair, Weekly Market, Roomtone and more. 33 files, 4.66 GB, 135 minutes

    Vol 6: Public Spaces, Roomtones, Forests, City, Small Towns, Country Side, Rain and more. 33 files, 4.65 GB, 134 minutes

    Vol 7: City, countryside, creek, forest, park, open-air bath, small town, water park and more. 33 files, 4.9 GB, 147 minutes

    Vol 8: Public Spaces, Roomtones, Public Bath, City, Busride, Farm and more. 33 files, 5.14 GB, 148 minutes

    Vol 9: Public Spaces, Industrial, Animal Shelter, Factory, Mall Food Courts, City, Park, Schoolyard and more. 33 files, 4.62 GB, 129 minutes

    Vol 10: Public Spaces, Gym, Train Interiors, Fireworks, Public Bath, , City, Train, Busride, Rain and Wind, Wind and many more. 50 files, 8.94 GB, 248 minutes

    Vol 11: Beach, Public Space, City, Rain, Wind, Weekly Market, Bistro and many more. 33 Files, 4.93 GB, 122 minutes

    All recorded with Sound Devices 744T, Sennheiser MKh8040 ORTF, Beyerdynamic MC930 ORTF, RODE NT4 or Sony PCM-D100. All files were cleaned, edited and most of the files loop seamlessly.

    Please check the Content Lists below for each library to see what the full list of ambiences in each library – and if you get all 10 Collections together, you land some great savings compared to the individual collection prices.

    60 %
    OFF
  • Sci-Fi Sci-Fi Interface Data Processing Sounds Play Track 170 sounds included, 11 mins total $22

    With DATA sound library Sound Response brings you high quality collection of meticulously designed data processing and readout sci-fi sound effects!

    If you’re looking for those futuristic-sounding, hi-tech processing interface sound effects, and the sounds of sci-fi computer readouts, calculations, sensors and scanning sound effects, this soundpack will provide you with diverse arsenal of various high tech data processing sound effects to suit your needs. With DATA sound library at your disposal you’ll have the right audio tool to create that sophisticated, futuristic, sci-fi sound for your game, movie, trailer, video, or any other project that you’re working on!

    DATA soundpack contains 403MB (170 sound effects) of high definition 24bit/96khz Stereo WAV files, embedded with metadata to speed up your workflow.

    Add to cart
  • Environments Autumn Forest Vol. 01 – Ambiences Play Track 209 sounds included, 499 mins total $86

    This library contains more than 200 natural ambience clips with embedded metadata. They´re mixed and cut into: loops, transitions and variations to be ready to use inside your project.

    The metadata precisely points out any bird species, the specific environment and acoustic properties, the current day-cycle, weather conditions and any foreground or background events that are audible in the clip. To enhance the ease of use, I decided to structure the library as a modular toolbox for ambience sound design.

    It has been recorded in some of the oldest, quietest and most pristine forests all over Germany and offers a large collection of active and quiet nature ambiences featuring a variety of different natural environments and wildlife.

    Add to cart
 
Explore the full, unique collection here

Latest sound effects libraries:
 
  • Vehicles Skate on Board Play Track 112 sounds included, 22 mins total $49.99

    Skate on Board is an SFX library with the purpose of bringing alive the hidden sounds of skateboarding. This library has 65 stereo recordings with the best sound quality of actions such as jumps, pass by, and grinds over different surfaces like concrete banquets, and rail tubes. Furthermore, this library contains 47 mono audios of P.O.V perspectives which were reordered with different microphones attached to the skateboard to capture the full maneuvers and details of skateboarding.

  • The west is still wild.  A collection of clean and loopable natural ambient atmosphere elements – each 3 minutes long. This collection represents my best content and works great in multitrack layers.

    The core of this collection are natural sounds captured in the wilds of Oregon, USA – Western North America. The wildlife in the forests, streams, lakes, coast, and deserts of Oregon are a good substitute for most US and Canadian states west of the Rocky Mountains, including Washington, California, Nevada, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico, Utah, Arizona, Colorado, British Colombia, Alberta, Alaska, and Wyoming.

    These recordings are from a pristine environment that avoid any human caused sounds.

    22 %
    OFF
    Ends 1566943200
  • Animals & Creatures Broken Robot Play Track 87 sounds included $12.99 $6.99

    This library is a small “utility” collection of sounds great for use as Robot/Machines but also great for UI and Weapon design elements.  Servos, various metal objects and analog synths were recorded as source material to create this library.  The library includes raw servo recordings and meticulously performed or designed robotic/machine-like sounds.

    Bonus – Forge Sound Design Tool Sample Map

    If you own the Forge Sound Design Toolkit this library also comes with a specially curated sample map.  The sample map can be loaded into the sampler for randomization and the creation of more complex sounds.

    46 %
    OFF
    Ends 1566943200
  • Electricity Electric Arcs and Energy Play Track 266 sounds included $39.99 $19.99

    Electric Arcs and Energy is essentially two separate collections of sounds.  The first, Electrical Arcs are more raw.  These arc sounds can be manipulated and mangled to be used as design elements in your project.  They are highly flexible and can easily be pitch-shifted -48 semitones or more.  They remain remarkably useful and clean giving each sound multiple “dimensions”.

    The Electrical Energy collection is a series of more specified design elements that I created – Impacts and Powerups.  Meant to be used in Weapon or UI design they should be flexible enough to be used as stand-alone effects or layers in more complex sounds.

    Recording and Editing

    This library was designed from scratch by recording highly unconventional metal sources with a cello bow and processing them (see one example in video). Great care was taken during the recording and editing process to ensure maximum flexibility of these sounds.  The recording was done at 24/192kHz using the Sennheiser MKH 2050 mic which captures frequencies up to 50kHz.  All processing and design was then performed at 192kHz.

    Bonus – Forge Sound Design Tool Sample Map

    If you own the Forge Sound Design Toolkit this library also comes with a specially curated sample map.  The sample map can be loaded into the sampler for randomization and the creation of more complex sounds.

     

    50 %
    OFF
    Ends 1566943200
  • Whooshes liftFX Play Track 275+ sounds included $89 $71.20

    AWE YOUR AUDIENCE WITH RISERS, BUILD-UPS, DROPS AND MORE.
    Risers, build-ups, drops, breaks, downlifters, swells, sweeps, falls – it has never been so easy to hype your audience. Forget samples, just turn the knob or let liftFX even do that for you, automatically, in beat sync at the length you need it to be.

    KEY FEATURES:

    • Playable in real-time with instant auditive and visual feedback
    • Any length, tempo, pitch range and root note possible
    • Tempo sync or time (s) duration
    • Control key parameters independently or automatically (+ reversed)
    • Automation and modwheel (cc1) support for each parameter
    • 275 nifty presets included
    • Optional time lock and control lock to try different presets with current setting
    • High cut and low cut filters, reverb and delay
    • Lightweight plug-in, as it relies on synthesis
    USE CASES:

    • Build captivating uplifters, downlifters, drops, rhythmic, percussive builds and more effects out of the box
    • Any electronic genre such as EDM, Trap, Dubstep, Pop, Hip Hop, Drum’n’Bass, House, Techno, and more
    • Cinematic and experimental sound design
    • Beef up your synthesizers with tonal layers or harmonic overtones to achieve a fat, rich sound
    • liftFX requires a free iLok account (click to learn more)
    20 %
    OFF
    Ends 1567116000
 
FOLLOW OR SUBSCRIBE FOR THE LATEST IN FANTASTIC SOUND:
 
                              
 
GET THE MUCH-LOVED A SOUND EFFECT NEWSLETTER:
 
The A Sound Effect newsletter gets you a wealth of exclusive stories and insights
+ free sounds with every issue:
 
Subscribe here for free SFX with every issue

One thought on “Ototoxicity: Is your medication damaging your hearing?

  1. Here are the references for the article:

    M. Bisht and S.S. Bist. Ototoxicity: The Hidden Menace. Indian Journal of Otolaryngol head and Neck Surgery, 2011, July Vol 63/3 255-259

    There are separate more in-depth lists of drugs and their effects here: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3138949/

    S. Curhan, J. Shargorodsky, R. Eavey and G.C. Curhan, Analgesic Use and the Risk of hearing Loss in Women. American Journal of Epidemiology, Volume 176, Issue 6, 15 September 2012, Pages 544–554;

    J. Yorgason, G. Kalinec, W.Luxford, et al. Acetaminophen ototoxicity after acetaminophen/hydrocodone abuse: Evidence from two parallel in vitro mouse models, Otolayrngology—Head and Neck Surgery Vol 142, Issue 6, 2010.

    R.J. Reiter, D.X. Tan, A. Korkmaz, L Fuentes-Broto. Drug-mediated ototoxicity and tinnitus: alleviation with melatonin. Journal of Physiological Pharmacology. April 2011, Vol 62/2 151-7.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

HTML tags are not allowed.