Simply put... Cancer is hard on us. It attacks our bodies and our spirits. When we fight back... the treatments we must use often does extra damage to our bodies while trying to eliminate the deadly cancer. The drugs prescribed cause hair loss, nausea, pain, headaches and a multitude of other problems that the patient must endure. With research and developments the survival rates for most types of cancer has improved. These new treatments also increase the chance of getting a hearing loss.
Ototoxicity is a hidden side effect of Chemotherapy. Ototoxicity is defined as a property that is toxic to your ear. Specifically, it is when the cochlea, auditory nerve and even the vestibular system is adversely effected. Hearing damage is one of the most common side effects of certain chemo drugs.
According to the University of Arizona Cancer Center: “Hearing Loss has become one of the modern cancer therapy’s most prevalent side effects. In fact, hearing loss is among the most under-reported, yet potentially devastating side effects endured by many chemotherapy patients”.
Two chemotherapy agents such as cisplatin and carboplatin are very successful at attacking cancer but they are prescribed with high doses of antibiotics which are also known to cause hearing loss. Hearing loss from Ototoxicity usually appears starting in the extreme high frequencies which are above normal speech; and therefore, may not be readily noticeable to the patient. Actually, the patient may first start to experience ringing, chirping or buzzing. As the chemotherapy treatments advance they notice that their hearing may not be as acute as it once was.
Hearing loss often seem inevitable as we age. Along with hereditary factors, we are all exposed to noise and different challenges as we live our lives. Hearing loss that is caused by Ototoxicity is different. With Ototoxicity the hearing loss may come on suddenly and range from a mild loss that is barely noticeable to uncontrollable tinnitus or near deafness. There are ways to cope with the symptoms. Contact a hearing health care provider for help.
Everyone 50 years and older should get a thorough hearing evaluation. This sets your baseline of “normalcy”. In the event you are diagnosed with the dreaded “cancer”; go and see your hearing health care provider and get a complete hearing evaluation and hearing health work up. Do this BEFORE starting your chemotherapy treatments. During the treatments you should also be visiting your hearing health care provider so that your hearing levels can be monitored. If a shift in your hearing occurs then your oncologist may be able to prescribe different therapy and save your hearing. Depending upon the cancer.. they may not be able to make a change. Fortunately, there is active research into the development of agents that might prevent hearing loss and still be effective in reducing tumors.
On going studies on antibiotics that might actually reverse the effects of Ototoxicity are also underway.
Monitor your hearing just like you monitor the rest of your body... and remember....#To Hear Better Is To