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

Coping with cancer is terrible. Patients have to go through a really tough time and some of the side effects of chemotherapy are often ignored. But it’s critical to remember that, for a lot of cancer patients, there will be life after your disease. And you want that life to be as full and prosperous as possible.

This means it’s essential to talk to your care team about decreasing and managing side effects caused by your treatment. You’ll be able to enjoy life after cancer more completely, for instance, if you discuss potential balance and hearing issues that could occur post chemotherapy, with your care team.

Available cancer treatments

Cancer treatment has advanced considerably in the past couple of decades. The development of certain cancers can even be avoided with vaccines. But, broadly speaking, there are still three typical ways that doctors will combat this serious disease: surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy.

There are distinctive drawbacks and strengths to each of these, and in some cases, they’re used in tandem. Your care team will use your diagnosis and prognosis to determine the best course of treatment.

Do hearing and balance issues come with all cancer treatments? Well, every patient is different, but generally, these side effects are limited to chemotherapy.

What is chemotherapy?

Chemotherapy is a mixture of treatments that use strong chemicals to destroy cancer cells. Because of its extremely successful track record, chemotherapy is frequently the primary treatment choice for a wide variety of cancers. But because these chemicals are so strong, chemotherapy can lead to some unpleasant side effects. Here are several of these side effects:

  • Tiredness and fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of hearing
  • Sores in the mouth
  • Hair loss

Every patient responds to chemotherapy in their own way. Side effects might also change depending on the specific combination of chemicals used. Most individuals are pretty well aware of some of these symptoms, like hair loss for instance. But that isn’t necessarily the case with chemotherapy-induced hearing loss.

Does chemo cause hearing loss?

Hearing loss isn’t the most prominent chemotherapy side effect. But hearing loss can be an actual side effect of chemotherapy. Is chemo-induced hearing loss irreversible? The answer is often yes.

So, which chemotherapy frequently comes with long-term hearing loss? Platinum-based chemical protocols (also called cisplatin-based chemotherapy) are more typically responsible for hearing loss side effects. This type of therapy can be used on numerous kinds of cancers but is most frequently used to treat head, neck, and gynecological cancers.

Scientists believe that platinum-based chemotherapy chemicals attack and damage the tiny delicate stereocilia in the ears, but the precise cause-and-effect relationship is still unclear. This can cause hearing loss that is frequently irreversible.

Even if you’re battling cancer, you still need to keep your eye on hearing loss

When you’re fighting cancer, hearing loss might not feel like your most pressing concern. But even when you’re dealing with cancer, there are substantial reasons why your hearing health is important:

  • Social isolation is often the result of hearing loss. Lots of different conditions can be aggravated by this. If you’re feeling isolated socially, it can become challenging to do everyday activities, especially getting appropriate treatment.
  • Hearing loss can negatively impact your mental health, especially if that hearing loss is untreated. Anxiety and depression are closely linked to untreated hearing loss. Somebody who is battling cancer already has a heavy weight on their shoulders and the last thing they need is added anxiety and depression.
  • Tinnitus and balance problems can also be the result of chemo-induced hearing loss. So can tinnitus also be caused by chemotherapy? Unfortunately, yes. This tinnitus and loss of balance can be a problem, too. When you’re recovering from chemotherapy, the last thing you need is to have a fall.

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

What’s the solution?

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.

Here are several things that visiting a hearing specialist will help with:

  • If you do detect hearing loss, it will be easier to obtain fast treatment.
  • Become a patient of a hearing specialist. If you experience hearing loss, your hearing specialist will have a more complete understanding of your needs, your health history, and what your hearing treatment should be.
  • Establish a baseline for your hearing. This will make it substantially easier to detect hearing loss in the future.

So if you experience hearing loss from chemo, can it be cured? Unfortunately, sensorineural hearing loss is irreversible, regardless of the cause. But there are treatment options. Your hearing loss can be treated and managed with the help of your hearing specialist. This might mean basic monitoring or it might include a pair of hearing aids.

It should be mentioned, too, that most chemotherapy-caused hearing loss normally impacts the higher-range of hearing frequencies. Your day-to-day hearing may not even really be effected.

Caring for your hearing is important

Taking good care of your hearing is essential. Discuss any concerns you might have about how chemotherapy might affect your hearing with your care team. You may not be able to alter your treatment options, but at least you’ll be able to closely track your symptoms and treat them accordingly.

Hearing loss can be induced by chemotherapy. But with the correct plan, and a little assistance 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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