Hearing management

Updated 06 December 2017

Viagra may double hearing loss risk

A new study suggests men who take Viagra or similar drugs for erectile dysfunction may double their chances of hearing impairment.

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Is an erection worth becoming hard of hearing?

A new US study suggests men who take Pfizer's Viagra (sildenafil) or similar drugs for erectile dysfunction may double their chances of hearing impairment, bolstering a Food and Drug Administration warning from 2007 about this side effect.

High doses of Viagra have been shown to damage hearing in mice, but until now only a few anecdotal cases had been described in humans.

The study, based on a national sample of American men over 40, found that slightly more than one in six of those who did not take Viagra-like drugs - for instance, Eli Lilly's Cialis - were deaf or hard of hearing.

1 in 3 suffer hearing loss

Among those who took the drugs, however, almost one in three had hearing loss, Gerald McGwin, an epidemiologist at the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Public Health, told Reuters Health.

Even after accounting for other factors linked to hearing loss, hard-of-hearing men still had twice the odds of taking Viagra, said McGwin, whose findings appear in the journal Archives of Otolaryngology - Head & Neck Surgery.

However, he said, more research is still needed to confirm the findings.

Black box warning

Drug makers already include a "black box" warning about potential hearing loss on these products. But the new results expand on that concern, said Dr James E. Saunders, an ear doctor with Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Centre in Lebanon, New Hampshire, US.

"Before the current paper the focus has always been on sudden hearing loss," Saunders, who was not involved in the study, told Reuters Health. "This study suggests that maybe there are small incremental changes that occur over time."

While he noted that the study relied on self-reporting of hearing loss, which has been criticized as inaccurate, he said at this point he would advise patients with hearing loss not to take the drugs.

But for men with normal hearing and erectile dysfunction, comparing a potential side effect to a real problem might tip the scale, he added.

"The few times that I've had that conversation with patients it's kind of a difficult decision," he said. - (Frederik Joelving/Reuters Health, May 2010)

SOURCE: Archives of Otolaryngology--Head & Neck Surgery, 2010. http://archotol.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/short/136/5/488

 

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Hearing Expert

Dr Kara Hoffman graduated from UCT in 2004, thereafter she completed her year of community service in Durban. In 2010 she completed her Masters Degree in Paediatric Aural Rehabilitation from UKZN. In 2016, she became a Doctor of Audiology through the University of Arizona (ATSU). Dr Hoffman and her partner Lauren Thompson opened a fully diagnostic audiology practice called Thompson & Hoffman Audiology Inc. In 2011 with world-class technology and equipment to be able to offer the broad public all hearing-related services including hearing testing for adults and babies, vestibular (balance) assessments and rehabilitation, industrial audiology, hearing devices, central auditory processing assessments for school-aged children, school screening, neonatal hearing screening programmes at Alberlito and Parklands Hospital, cochlear implants and other implantable devices, medicolegal assessments and advanced electroacoustic assessments of hearing. Thompson and Hoffman Audiology Inc. are based at Alberlito Hospital in Ballito, St Augustines Hospital in Durban and at 345 Essenwood Road, Musgrave. The practices are all wheelchair friendly. There are three audiologists that practice from Thompson & Hoffman – including Dr Kara Hoffman, Lauren Thompson & Minette Lister. The practice boasts professional, highly qualified, and extensive diagnostic services where all your hearing healthcare needs can be met. The additional licensing in vestibular assessment and rehabilitation, paediatric rehabilitation and cochlear implantation places this practice in one of the top specialist audiological positions in South Africa, with a wealth of experience in all clinical areas of audiology and is a very well respected and sought-after practice.

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