Let’s chalk up another side effect to chemotherapy and radiation: hearing loss!
For about the last 6-9 months, I have really been having a hard time hearing out of my left ear. If I sleep on my right side, I am all but deaf given how poor my hearing is on the left side. I’ve started having problems if there is too much background noise, and deal with ringing in my ears from time to time. Sometimes the ringing is so loud I can’t hear anything else. And with the loss only one side, I have a hard time telling directionally where sounds are coming from. It’s very unnerving.
It took me a while but I finally called for an appointment with an ENT and had my hearing test today. As suspected, my right ear is pretty good (slight loss as high frequencies) but my left ear had significant loss. The ENT confirmed that it is nerve-related, based on some other tests they did, so there is very little that can be done except for a hearing aid. Doc does want me to go for an MRI since, in about 5% of patients, there may be benign tumors impacting the nerve.
With the confirmation that the loss was nerve-related, I couldn’t help but think about traditional cancer treatments and the neuropathy that many people experience. Neuropathy is nerve damage resulting in numbness, tingling, burning sensation or loss of sensation to touch. So I was curious if the potential was there for my hearing loss to be related to chemo or radiation.
Enter my friend, Google. And lo and behold… there IS a link between chemo/radiation and hearing loss! (Certainly not a side effect I had ever heard of!) It’s called ototoxicity. Per the M.D. Anderson site: “Toxicities from chemotherapy and radiation can cause nerve damage that leads to hearing loss.” Here is the full Q&A on their site: click here.
I suppose there is a chance that my hearing loss resulted from listening to loud music in bars in my younger days. However, the likelihood of the damage to only one ear is low.
Long term side effects such as this one can show up for years to come. I can hardly wait to see what comes my way next… the options are plentiful. (long-term side effects)
IMDb: Hear No Evil (2014)