Hearing Loss


Signs and Symptoms of Hearing Loss

Typical signs of a hearing problem include:

  • Playing the radio or TV too loudly
  • Frequently saying “what?” during conversations
  • Having problems communicating during parties or in restaurants
  • Not hearing something if the person is out of the range of vision

Sometimes you are so unaware of your hearing loss that it is up to a family member to tell you and your healthcare provider that you’re having problems hearing.

A simple way to tell if you’re having problems is with the “whisper test.” Have someone stand about two feet away and whisper a letter and number combination like “4K2.” If you can’t hear the combination, it indicates that you have some hearing loss and should undergo formal testing.  

Another possible symptom of hearing loss is ringing in the ear (tinnitus). Tinnitus often accompanies age-related hearing loss, but it could also be a symptom of an unrelated condition requiring medical attention. Therefore, if you experience tinnitus, you should see your primary care provider or an otolaryngologist (ear, nose, throat doctor) for an evaluation.

Medications that May Affect Hearing

There are more than 200 drugs that are known as ototoxic—meaning that they affect hearing. Often, simply stopping an ototoxic drug will restore hearing, but sometimes the damage is permanent. The first sign of hearing problems related to a medication is usually tinnitus (ringing in your ears). You may also experience some balance problems or dizziness.

Some ototoxic medications include: 

  • Certain antibiotics like gentamicin
  • Certain chemotherapy drugs
  • High doses of aspirin, acetaminophen, and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
  • Loop diuretics
  • Antimalarial drugs


Last Updated June 2020