Cystic fibrosis (CF) is a genetic condition that affects the parts of the body that make mucus and sweat and limits the ability to breathe over time. While hearing loss is not directly caused by cystic fibrosis, certain treatment options may impact your ability to hear.
Antibiotic Treatment for Cystic Fibrosis Can Damage Ears
Oftentimes, patients with CF are treated with powerful antibiotics. These medications are lifesaving and often necessary to treat respiratory infections. However, they also have been found to be ototoxic, especially when used regularly and/or at high doses.
If a drug is ototoxic, it means it has the ability to damage the ears. This damage can lead to tinnitus, balance issues and hearing loss. Sometimes, these effects are temporary and will go away once the use of the drug has stopped. However, in other instances, they are known to cause permanent damage.
A study published in 2017 in the Journal of Cystic Fibrosis found that “cumulative IV-antibiotic dosing has a significant negative effect on hearing sensitivity in patients with CF.”
A separate study done in 2016 sought to identify risk factors associated with the development of sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL) in CF patients. The study concluded that age and frequency of hospitalizations are key predictors of hearing loss development and recommended increased awareness and regular hearing loss screenings for CF patients who are at higher risk.
As a growing body of research shows the hearing risks associated with these medications, doctors are being more cautious about prescribing them and looking for non-ototoxic alternatives when possible.
What To Do if You Suspect Hearing Loss
If you have CF and have noticed that it’s become harder to understand what’s been said on television or during conversations with friends at Tommy’s Bakery & Café, you may have hearing loss. Schedule an appointment with an audiologist at the first sign of concern. Whether they perform a simple hearing test or a full audiological exam, they should be able to quickly diagnose the severity of your hearing loss and decide on a treatment plan.
Hearing aids are the recommended treatment in most cases of hearing loss. While hearing aids might not be able to restore your hearing completely back to normal, they can significantly improve your ability to understand speech and sounds and help you stay confident in your ability to communicate and connect with others.
For more information or to schedule an appointment with a hearing expert, contact The ENT Center of Central Georgia today.