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Adult woman suffering from hearing loss after having chemotherapy treatments discussing symptoms with her doctor.

There’s nothing that’s good about cancer. Patients have to go through a very difficult time and some of the side effects of chemotherapy are frequently disregarded. But it’s critical to remember that, for a great many cancer patients, there is life after your disease. And you want that life to be as full and prosperous as possible.

Talking to your healthcare team about managing and decreasing side effects is so important for this reason. You’ll be able to enjoy life after cancer more fully, for example, if you talk about possible balance and hearing problems that could occur post chemotherapy, with your care team.

Available cancer treatments

In the past couple of decades, considerable developments in cancer treatment have been made. There are even some vaccines that can stop the development of certain cancers in the first place! But generally, doctors will utilize one or more of three different ways to battle this disease: radiation, chemotherapy, and surgery.

Each treatment method has its own distinctive strengths and drawbacks, and none of them are mutually exclusive. The best treatment course will be guided by your diagnosis, your prognosis, and your care team.

Do all cancer treatments cause hearing and balance problems? Usually, these side effects only accompany chemotherapy, but each patient is different.

Chemotherapy – what is it?

Chemotherapy kills cancer cells with a combination of strong chemicals. Because of its highly successful track record, chemotherapy is frequently the leading treatment option for a wide array of cancers. But chemotherapy can create some really uncomfortable side effects because these chemicals are so strong. Those side effects can include:

  • Sores in the mouth
  • Vomiting
  • Tiredness and fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Hearing loss
  • Hair loss

Side effects of chemotherapy tend to vary from person to person. The particular combination of chemicals also has a significant impact on the specific side effects. Most individuals are pretty well aware of some of these symptoms, like hair loss for example. But not so many individuals are aware of chemotherapy induced hearing loss.

Can hearing loss be brought about by chemotherapy?

Hearing loss is not the most prominent chemotherapy side effect. But the reality is that chemotherapy can and does cause hearing loss. Is chemo-induced hearing loss irreversible? The answer is frequently yes.

So is there a specific type of chemo that is more likely to cause hearing loss? Platinum-based chemical protocols (also known as cisplatin-based chemotherapy) are more commonly responsible for hearing loss side effects. These kinds of therapies are most often utilized to treat head, neck, and gynecological cancers, but they can be used on other cancers as well.

Scientists think that platinum-based chemotherapy chemicals attack and damage the little fragile stereocilia in the ears, but the exact cause-and-effect relationship is still unclear. This can trigger hearing loss that is frequently irreversible.

Hearing loss is something you want to pay attention to, even when you’re fighting cancer

Hearing loss might not seem like that much of an issue when you’re combating cancer. But even when you’re dealing with cancer, there are substantial reasons why the health of your hearing is important:

  • Hearing loss, particularly neglected hearing loss, can negatively impact your mental health. Neglected hearing loss is closely associated with increases in depression and anxiety. Someone who is fighting cancer already has a heavy weight on their shoulders and the last thing they need is added anxiety and depression.
  • Chemotherapy-caused hearing loss can also lead to balance problems and tinnitus. So can tinnitus also be triggered by chemotherapy? Sadly, yes. This tinnitus and loss of balance can be an issue, too. You don’t want to fall when you’re recuperating from your chemotherapy treatment!
  • Social isolation is frequently the result of hearing loss. Many different conditions can be exacerbated by this. If you’re feeling isolated socially, it can become tedious to do daily activities, especially getting appropriate treatment.

You’ll want to speak with your care team about decreasing other health issues while you’re fighting cancer.

So what should you do?

When you’re fighting cancer, your life becomes a laundry list of doctor’s appointments. But don’t allow that to stop you from scheduling an appointment for a hearing test.

Visiting a hearing specialist will help you do several things:

  • Become a patient of a hearing specialist. Your hearing specialist will have a more detailed understanding of the state of your hearing and its needs, if you do have hearing loss.
  • Establish a baseline for your hearing. This will make it substantially easier to detect hearing loss in the future.
  • It will be easier to receive fast treatment when you detect the signs or symptoms of hearing loss.

So if you develop hearing loss from chemo, can it be reversed? No matter the cause, sensorineural hearing loss has no cure, sadly. But there are treatment options. Your hearing loss can be treated and managed with the help of your hearing specialist. You may require hearing aids or you might simply need your hearing to be tracked.

It should be noted, too, that the majority of chemotherapy-caused hearing loss often affects the higher-range of hearing frequencies. Your day-to-day hearing may not even really be effected.

Caring for your hearing is important

Paying attention to your hearing is essential. Talk over any worries you may have about how chemotherapy could affect your hearing with your care team. Your treatment might not be able to change but at least you’ll be better able to keep an eye on your symptoms and to get more rapid treatment.

Chemotherapy can cause hearing loss. But with the correct plan, and a little help from your hearing specialist, you’ll be able to get effective treatments that keep you hearing better longer.

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The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.
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