by Neil Bauman, Ph.D.

In the preceding issue of this e-zine I had written an article called “Gabapentin Does Not Work for Tinnitus“.

In response to this article a lady wrote:

I had to respond to the article about Gabapentin. I had to see a new doctor for my migraines. Whereas my previous one, who moved away, had been quite understanding about drugs (his mother had an almost identical experience to mine with hearing loss), this new one was like a drill sergeant.

He said, “You will take these drugs no matter what the side effects. It’s the only way to help your migraines.” This attitude was really scary, as he listed off a number of drugs, some of which I had already tried with poor results. I’d already had allergic reactions in the past, and was not sure of the new ones he listed. But I wrote them down and tried looking them up on your online list. Even though not all of them were on those lists, I was too afraid of being forced to take something that could be dangerous. After he threw up his hands (literally) and said, “What can I do with you—you can’t take anything,” I left this doctor and went to a pain clinic instead. Thankfully, these people will work with me.

After I got your book [Ototoxic Drugs Exposed], I took out this list and looked up every one of the drugs this doctor had mentioned. All were at least a Class 3 [moderately ototoxic] or worse. Of course, one of those was Gabapentin, the first drug he had prescribed. I had actually taken some of it before I’d left his practice, and it did not help the migraines. I’m just glad I didn’t continue taking any more of those, because they are so dangerous.

I know too many people who have been prescribed this drug without much reason. It is being prescribed for many conditions it is not even meant to treat, just because there isn’t much else, and the doctors think it “might” work. This is especially true for migraine patients who get treated like guinea pigs for any new drug that just “might” help. That is because there are so few drugs that were created for, or actually work, for migraines.

I am horrified to learn that this is now being prescribed for tinnitus. I guarantee it will not work for that—mine was worse even after the few pills I took. It is really a scary drug and it’s good that you are warning people. By the way, I use my book all the time. Just recently, I had to ask for a different prescription for a minor illness because the first one was a Class 3. My internist had no problem giving me a new prescription for a different drug.

Most doctors, other than otologists, just do not know about ototoxic drugs.

I’d like to use my experiences to help other people avoid the same pitfalls I experienced, I cringe to hear of other people who have been damaged by all this ignorance, when it could be avoided.

When it comes to drugs, it is just appalling how much ignorance there is out there. The only sources I have found that are trustworthy are these: (1) your website, (2) your book “Ototoxic Drugs Exposed,” (3) some pharmacists and (4) my psychiatrist. I’m not sure about others, but mine was especially careful about drugs. Another experience I had right after my hearing loss was that my (good) neurologist had wanted me to try Effexor [Venlafaxine] for migraine, but did not want to write the prescription until I had talked to my psychiatrist, as he knew I was going in for a consultation. What my psychiatrist told me was that there was no documentation that he had ever read, but that he had prescribed it for two of his patients. They both had reported minor hearing loss after long- term use. He had them tested by an audiologist, decided to never prescribe it again. He didn’t ever want to risk anyone’s hearing again. He felt that in my case having both a significant loss already and endolymphatic hydrops that was the last drug I needed to be taking. I’m not sure there is any documentation yet on Effexor except in your book. It’s not on any of my other lists. Of course, I am grateful to my old neurologist and my psychiatrist, for being so careful. Most doctors are not.

If you want to protect your hearing, you need to be proactive—just as the above lady is. You can do what she is doing, and check out the ototoxic side effects of any drugs before you take them in “Ototoxic Drugs Exposed“. This book contains information on the ototoxicity of 763 drugs known to damage ears.