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Chemo & Hearing Loss, What's The Connection?

Haering loss & chemotherapy

Hearing loss and chemotherapy - what’s the connection?

 

Widex, one of the hearing aid manufacturers we are associated with, released a good article on the connection between chemotherapy and hearing loss. We thought it would be a good idea to speak about it and help raise some awareness and give some advice. 

Side effects of Chemo

The most well known and recognisable side effects of chemo are hair loss, weight loss, and nausea. They are very visible side effects an immediately recognisable. However, there are hidden side effects one of which is ototoxicity. Ototoxicicty means that a compound or drug is damaging to the structures of the ear. When we refer to ototoxicity we are usually referring to damage done to the structures of the inner ear, the cochlea. Ototoxicity causes hearing loss. 

An Increase in Survivability

The treatment of cancer has dramatically leaped forward in the last twenty years.Many cancers that were once fatal are now treatable, which means that survival rates have increased. Many common types of cancer are no longer the death sentence they were once viewed as.

While this has to be clebrated it has also led to cancer survivors experiencing long-term side effects as a result of their treatment. Hearing loss is one of those long-term side effects. Here’s what you need to know if you are undergoing chemotherapy.

How common is hearing loss from chemotherapy?

The answer is unknown, it is difficult to estimate how many people will get a hearing loss as a result of chemotherapy treatment. Nor are we able to say that you will or will not get hearing loss as a side effect as it is impossible to identify susceptibility. According to the University of Arizona Cancer Center,

“Hearing loss has become one of modern cancer therapy’s most prevalent side effects. In fact, hearing loss is among the most underreported, yet potentially devastating, side effects endured by many chemotherapy patients.”

Why can chemo cause hearing loss?

Chemotherapy agents like cisplatin and carboplatin are very successful life saving treatments for cancer, unfortunately, they are ototoxic and may cause toxic damage to the inner ear. Damage caused by this type of toxic action begins in the high frequencies of hearing. Most sounds in speech commonly occur in lower frequency regions. Because of this fact, patients often don’t realize that they ae losing their hearing. With continued treatment, the hearing loss can become worse, more noticeable and tinnitus can occur.

What Can You Do?

Hearing loss due to the damage caused by ototoxicity is unlike normal age related hearing loss. It can come on suddenly and progress quickly. With this in mind, it would be worthwhile to have a hearing test before treatment. This will give a baseline for your hearing or a start point. This baseline can then be used to determine whether or not your hearing becomes worse during and after treatment. During your treatment you should then have regular evaluations to monitor your hearing ability.  

Is their treatment for ototoxicity?

There is no cure for ototoxicity, but there are ways to lessen the symptoms. For instance, if you develop tinnitus, there are tinnitus management devices and sound therapy that can help to manage ringing and buzzing in the ears. If you are worried about hearing loss from ototoxicity or any other cause, please don't hesitate to contact us. If you have any questions about hearing loss, hearing healthcare or hearing aids in Glasgow, give us a call on 0141 954 6030 or book your appointment online now

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