Medical Treatment for Hearing Loss
by Laurie B. Rosenblum, MPH
The only type of hearing loss that can be treated by taking medication is hearing loss caused by an ear infection. Hearing loss occurs because fluid in the ear interferes with sound conduction. In this case, antibiotics are used to treat the infection. The hearing loss is corrected when the infection ends and fluid drains. Antibiotics can help eliminate the fluid or pus and restore the hearing. Nasal steroids and antihistamines may help if allergies are causing the fluid buildup or preventing the buildup from improving after an infection.
If hearing loss is caused by a buildup of earwax, removing the wax restores hearing. The wax is loosened by putting a few drops of a softener, such as mineral oil, baby oil, or glycerin, in your ear. Using a syringe, warm water is sent into the ear; the water comes out when you tilt your head. The doctor may need to do this process a few times before the wax comes out. Other ways of removing the wax after it is softened include scooping it with a special tool or using a suction device.
Treating Other Medical Illnesses
When hearing loss is caused by other medical conditions, it may be possible to improve hearing by treating those conditions. Examples include tumors and cardiovascular disease.
Discontinuing or Changing Medications for Other Conditions
If your hearing loss may be caused or worsened by a medication, talk with your doctor about stopping that medication or changing to one that does not affect hearing. The most common medications that cause hearing loss are:
Isaacson JE, Vora NM. Differential diagnosis and treatment of hearing loss. Am Fam Physician. 2003;68(6):1125-1132.
Sudden sensorineural hearing loss. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T115342/Sudden-sensorineural-hearing-loss. Updated May 27, 2017. Accessed August 17, 2017.
Last reviewed September 2017 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Michael Woods, MD, FAAP
Last Updated: 9/17/2016
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