Surgery, Anesthesia, Hearing Loss

A doctor answers questions about surgery and hearing loss.

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My hearing was adversely affected after surgery. Does anesthesia sometimes cause hearing loss?

M. Brown
Ohio

We contacted the American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) about your unfortunate experience. Dr. William Camann, an anesthesiologist at Brigham & Women’s Hospital and associate professor at Harvard Medical School, Boston, explains:

“Hearing loss is a very rare but known side effect of surgery and anesthesia. It may also develop after surgery in people taking certain drugs (for example, some antibiotics).

“The type of anesthesia and surgery being performed may influence the risk of developing hearing loss. Spinal (or epidural) anesthesia may change the circulation of fluid around the brain and spinal cord, causing some people to get a headache. It can also affect fluid within the ear, and may result in temporary or permanent hearing loss.

“Hearing loss has also been reported after cardiac surgery involving cardiopulmonary bypass [a heart-lung machine]. Although the cause is unknown, it is possible that ‘microemboli,’ or small particles, can move into the bloodstream during the bypass portion of the operation. These particles may travel to blood vessels of the ear, and have an effect on hearing in one or both ears. Blood pressure alterations during bypass surgery may be another factor.”

Dr. Camann adds that concerns about individual cases should be referred to the anesthesiologists and/or surgeons involved in the actual case.

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Comments

  1. I had anterior hip replacement surgery during the latter part of September 2019 under spinal anesthesia.

    I sustained a Barotrauma Injury to my ear(s) during an emergency landing years earlier while I was in the USAF and had been enduring Tinnitus and ear fullness et al ever since.

    An audiologist I was referred to post-surgery suggested I seek an ENT for Eustachian Tube Dysfunction.

    Several weeks after the surgery i battled with what I will term “swimmer’s ear” and an intolerance to cool temperatures.

    I lost touch with an article in the Anesthesia Journal that discussed my post-surgery experiences and the potential for these condition with spinal anesthesia and Eustachian Tube Dysfunction.

    Does this make sense?

  2. How does this start? My 14 year old son had surgery yesterday. He is complaining of clogged ears and also inner ear pain!!! I am getting very concerned, waiting for a call back from his pediatrician now

  3. I had a torn rotator cuff surgery July 25, 2019. When I woke up the next day at home I could hear a man’s voice signing a part of a song in a low opera tone. It wouldn’t be so bad if it was Neil Diamond singing as I hate opera! It hasn’t cleared up and it’s November 23, 2919. I can only hear it when there isn’t any other sound around me. It is very depressing and embrassing when I try to explain it to someone. I’m not sure what to do to relieve it. Any suggestions I would very much appreciate.

  4. Just had surgery for a broken ankle this morning. I Awoke from general anastethia in the recovery room at around noon. I am home now, it is almost 3pm. I noticed my left ear ringing and hearing muffled in that ear about half hour ago. I did not notice this at the hospital and do not believe I had these symptoms earlier. I would describe my symptoms as being similar to the effects of firing a shotgun without hearing protection. Being a bit concerned, I gave a quick Google search of my symptoms witch lead me here. I am hoping this resolves itself but I gotta say, after reading the few posts on this site, I am a bit more worried than I was.

  5. I had surgery recently on May 1 st 2019 and soon after I cannot hear from left ear., and
    From the May 20 my left ear is also continously ringing.
    Surgery was done in famous Sloan cattering Cancer hospital in New York City.

  6. I am having difficulty in my hearing in both ears and this happened 2 months after my appendectomy. Is there a possibility of an overdose of anesthesia? In my surgery, Spinal anesthesia couldn’t be injected right away because of my weight and age and I was so nervous that I couldn’t stay still, and doctors found it very difficult to inject my spine.The anesthesiologist has to make me sleep injecting me with another anesthesia,he told me this after my operation. Is there a connection between my hearing loss and my surgery? Thank you.

  7. many general anesthesia surgeries in my life——–7different hand operations in 1992, and 3 different dental procedures with anesthesia over 15years—-slowly my hearing worsened, now recently internal surgery has given me big hearing problems———I have always suspected it, now it worsened greatly since the internal surgery———no choice, the pain would have been unbearable without it! hearing aids do not help much now? warning to all it can happen! since 1992 hearing has gone down , down , down——–I am only 62, to make it worse yet all the medicines affect hearing too—-vicodin, morphine, any pain killer or sleep meds, also many antibiotics!! all have a negative affect on the nerves of your inner ear!!! look out for your self, they will not warn [email protected]@@ THOMAS

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