by Neil Bauman, Ph.D.
© June, 2012
A man wrote,
I am a musician and have occasionally taken Beta Blockers to deal with particularly stressful concerts etc. I gave up taking them as I found that I had some form of hearing loss and the frequency with which I heard the pitches was also affected. I was using Propranolol. My doctor had no idea that this could be a possible side effect and was somewhat bemused by my account of it’s effects.
It has been several years since I have used any form of Beta Blocker, but because of the high-stress field I work in I was wondering if you could recommend a type of Beta Blocker that would not affect my hearing as obviously this is vital to my performance.
It’s good that you noticed a connection between Propranolol and your hearing loss even though your doctor said otherwise. The truth is that Propranolol is one of the Beta Blockers that is listed as causing hearing loss. Your doctor might not have seen this as hearing loss is not listed in the Physicians’ Desk Reference (PDR) that many doctors use, although it is listed in a couple of other drug reference books that I consult.
My question to you is why are you using Beta Blockers to control the results of your stress? There are other ways to control stress that are not ototoxic. Why don’t you investigate them rather than jumping on the drug bandwagon and then worrying about all the resulting side effects—which just further increases your stress level.
Find out which stress reduction techniques work best for you. It may be vigorous workouts, or meditation or prayer, or changing your diet to a low sugar diet, or getting more sleep, etc. Doing these kinds of things will help you bring your stress under control and improve your health at the same time. It’s a win-win solution as opposed to the win-lose results when taking drugs.
If you want to look up any drugs for yourself and see what their ototoxic side effects are, as far as I know, the only reasonably complete source of such information that is readily available in one place and is in an easy-to-read format is contained in my book “Ototoxic Drugs Exposed“.