Thursday, May 27, 2010

Viagra and Hearing Loss

A study published in the Archives of Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery reports that men who have taken sildenafil (Viagra) may experience sudden sensorineural hearing loss.  More than 2 dozen reports have indicated an association between sudden hearing loss and taking the phosphodiesterase type 5 inhibitor, Viagra.

This study compared subjects with and without hearing loss and looked at whether the men had used the erectile dysfunction medication before the loss.  During a 2-year period, 11,525 men age 40 and older provided information in 5 total interviews.  They were asked about health, health care activities, prescription medications and any hearing difficulty and use of hearing aids.  The overall incidence of hearing impairment was 17.9% and, as one would expect, it increased with age.

The results showed that men taking Viagra were more than twice  as likely to suffer hearing loss, even after controlling for other health factors.  No hearing loss was associated with Cialis or Levitra, but 80% of the men who used medication for erectile dysfunction took Viagra, so that may have affected the results.

Scientists do not know how or why the hearing loss occurs in some men.  The phosphodiesterase type 5 inhibitors may affect proteins that damage cochlear hair cells.  They may also promote congestion of nasal erectile tissue, which can then elevate middle ear pressure.   There has been an FDA warning on these drugs potentially triggering hearing loss since 2007.

Sales of Viagra, Cialis  and Levitra continue to rise worldwide. 

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