All You Need to Know About Antibiotics & Hearing Loss

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Have you ever thought about how antibiotics and hearing loss are linked? Sadly, some of the hearing aid specialists found in their recent researches that some of the specific antibiotics generate a high risk for cochleotoxicity- an injury to the cochlea that is a kind of ototoxicity.

In specific, these scientists studied a type of antibiotic called aminoglycoside antibiotics. These antibiotics are generally complicated for the body to absorb during standard ingestion, so doctors many times direct using an IV.

How antibiotics work?

Aminoglycosides are usually recommended bacterial antibiotics that cover up a wide spectrum of infections like tuberculosis and cystic fibrosis. They are mostly recommended for children and are an umbrella term for several types of drugs. The drug featured in the researches was known as gentamicin.

After injecting aminoglycosides in mice, researchers checked if they go through cochleotoxicity or not. The scientists concluded that using aminoglycosides lead to more threat of drug-induced cochleotoxicity and a high chance to fight infection. As the antibiotic fights infection, it affects the sensory hair within the ear in a negative way. The moment these cells get damaged, it can never be repaired, which leads to hearing loss.

Who is affected by ototoxicity?

As per reports, 80%, or 480,000, of babies brought to the NICU (neonatal intensive care units) in a year, are given aminoglycosides. A study completed at the Kresge Hearing Research Institute found that 20% of cases where aminoglycosides were injected resulted in hearing loss. This means around 16% of babies in the NICU will end up with hearing damage, but their lives will be saved!

The future of antibiotics and hearing loss

Presently when you know there is a link between antibiotics and hearing loss, you can opt to create innovative options. Some of the top hearing loss treatment specialists are working to create a new form of aminoglycoside that can be used in children to fight infection while mitigating the risk of hearing loss. Instead of treating diseases with drugs like gentamicin, they’re attempting to create a new drug that will decrease the chance of hearing damage.


Since 2008, they’ve created 18 options to try out, and so far three have advanced to the next round of testing. This challenging process may take a while to fully develop into a usable antibiotic, but the time and effort will certainly pay off if children’s hearing is no longer damaged.


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