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Hearing loss causes: Viagra

Contributed by , assistant editor for Healthy Hearing

If you’re like one of 11.5 million Americans who watched the Super Bowl on February 1, you may have seen an ad featuring a little blue pill, an old Italian man and his old Italian woman. The man, looking to ... impress his lady friend … went to pop that little blue pill into his mouth.

hearing loss and viagra
Viagra is an ototoxic medicine that can cause
sudden sensorineural hearing loss. Talk to your
physician and hearing healthcare practitioner 
if you are on a PDE-5 inhibitor to assess your
risk of developing hearing loss. 

He missed.

The little blue pill bounced around and around and eventually ended in the gas tank of a Fiat.

The Fiat got bigger – and stayed that way – thanks to the little blue pill. 

The commercial reminded us here at Healthy Hearing about the fact that the little blue pill, more commonly known as Viagra, may be doing more than it’s supposed to: An extensive study has now officially shown a relationship between sudden hearing loss and the use of Viagra.

Viagra and hearing loss

A 2007 study, published in The Archives of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, shows that some individuals who have taken Viagra and other PDE-5 inhibitors reported sudden hearing loss in one or both ears, sometimes accompanied by tinnitus, or a ringing in the ear. In fact, men who have taken Viagra or other PDE-5 inhibitors are twice as likely to report hearing loss than men who have never taken the little blue pill.

The findings prompted the Federal Drug Administration to send out a new warning for Viagra in 2007. The reason for the reported hearing loss isn't specified, though hearing experts believe that increased blood flow to the delicate hearing mechanism may actually damage parts of the auditory (hearing) system.

What are the symptoms of hearing loss?

There's an obvious quandary, here. A healthy, happy love life is important to the quality of life of many couples of all ages. However, the possibility of experiencing hearing loss should make couples thing twice about the use of any drug that's used to treat ED. So should you stop using Viagra? Cialis? Levitra?

Not necessarily, but you should increase your awareness of changes in your hearing. So what do you look for – or listen for – if you take medication to treat erectile dysfunction?

  • Friends and family tell you that you have a hearing problem. That's usually the first sign of hearing loss. Often, hearing loss is so gradual that the individual who experiences it doesn't notice. But those around him do. So, listen to your friends, family, neighbors and coworkers who point out that "maybe you should get your hearing checked." 
  • Turning up the volume. If the TV volume notches up, if you're scrolling up the volume on your MP3 player or the car radio, consider it a sign that you might be losing your ability to hear.
  • If you have trouble hearing sounds in the upper frequencies – the high notes, a female or child's voice – this could indicate the onset of hearing loss.
  • Difficulty hearing in large rooms. Some people experience hearing loss in large spaces – spaces that produce echoes like auditoriums.
  • Difficulty hearing in background noise. Early hearing loss is often most noticeable while listening in background noise.

If you have any doubts, talk to the prescribing physician to discuss the risks associated with the use of a PDE-5i. And become your own best advocate for healthy hearing by discussing any hearing loss you think you might be experiencing with a hearing healthcare professional.

Hearing loss is a quality of life issue, just like a healthy love life. It's a decision that each couple must make for themselves. However, make the decision based on the facts and on the results of a hearing evaluation performed by a hearing professional. Once you have all the facts, you can make the best decision for you and your mate, in conjunction with your family doctor.

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