by Neil Bauman, Ph.D.
In order to avoid (as much as is possible) the ototoxic (ear damaging) side effects from taking drugs, for years I have suggested that you:
- Take the least ototoxic drug that will do the job
- Take the lowest effective dose
- Take it for the shortest time possible
By doing this you will reduce your risk of suffering damage to your ears. However, as I’ve said many times before, you also have to consider all the other possible side effects that may affect the rest of your body.
For example, the Cephalosporin class of antibiotics is one of the least ototoxic classes of antibiotics. As a result, if you need to take an antibiotic and want to reduce your risk of ear damage, it seems like a good choice. And indeed, I have made such suggestions to various people.
However, a recent study revealed that you still have to be careful. Just taking a single course of a Cephalosporin antibiotic can increase your risk of getting type II diabetes by 9%. (1) And taking more than one course of these antibiotics in the same year can greatly increase that risk. (Note: Cephalosporin antibiotics include drugs such as Cefaclor, Cefadroxil, Cefazolin, Cefpodoxime, Cefprozil, Ceftriaxone, Cefuroxime and Cephalexin.)
Here are two other examples from this same study. Taking two to five courses of penicillin (a mildly ototoxic drug) in a single year raised the risk of getting diabetes by 8%, while taking more than five courses in a year raised the risk by 23%. (1)
Taking 2 to 5 courses of a fairly ototoxic class of antibiotics called the Fluoroquinolone antibiotics raised the risk of getting diabetes by 15%, while taking more than five courses raised the risk by 37%. (1) (Fluoroquinolone antibiotics include drugs such as Cinoxacin, Ciprofloxacin, Enoxacin, Gatifloxacin, Gemifloxacin, Grepafloxacin, Levofloxacin, Lomefloxacin, Moxifloxacin, Norfloxacin, Ofloxacin, Sparfloxacin and Trovafloxacin.)
Therefore, you need to remember that there are always trade-offs. People contact me to help them find the least ototoxic drug they can take for a given condition-—and I give them some suggestions—but I warn them that they need to check out all the other side effects as well–before they decide which drug they ultimately will take. You would be wise to do the same.
If you want to look up the ototoxic side effects of Bupropion (Wellbutrin), see my book “Ototoxic Drugs Exposed” 3rd edition. This book contains information on the ototoxicity of 877 drugs, 35 herbs and 148 chemicals.
(1) Yang, Yu-Xiao. Could Antibiotics Give You Diabetes? June 11, 2015. Bottom Line Health. http://bottomlinehealth.com/could-antibiotics-give-you-diabetes/.