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

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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  1. i had heart surgery in may 23 when i woke up i was deaf in left ear. its over 1 month and have dealt with the deafness coming and going have had sore throat and left ear and was given antibiotics. since last week (now June 4) I have been totally deaf left ear. what to do.

  2. Recently I had surgery done on my neck due to damaged vertebra. Upon awakening following surgery, I was unable to hear. Voices sound like Donald Duck speaking, Very high pitched . I must turn my TV remote up as high as possible and still am unable to distinguish most words. I also hear a voice which sings off in the distance. I feel anyone will think me mentally unbalanced if I say so. I am afraid this could be permanent. My dr. told me it was not due to surgery but perhaps anesthesia . If so is this permanent? What can I do?

  3. I had an epidural steroid shot in L5/S1 for a disc protrusion. This is my second, but both times it was very painful to get the injection and when I sat up, I felt very lightheaded, was gray in color and sounds were very muffled. After laying down and blood circulation normalizing, my hearing returned. It took a few minutes and my hearing loss correlated with light headedness. Super scary and no one would tell me if that was normal or why it was happening. I’m curious to know if it’s dangerous or not.

  4. I had breast reduction in June 2021.after waking up i couldnt hear, the voices were so distant and i couldnt understand anything. Luckily it was temporary lasting a few hours. But it was a terrifying experience

  5. I had laproscopic surgery for an umbilical hernia. It was general anesthesia. When they were putting me under I could feel my hearing go. Now I can’t hear out of my left ear and there is a ring in it. I told my doctor but he said it was from allergies
    Not! This is awful!!

  6. I woke up one morning in April and had an annoying humming noise in my left ear. I didn’t have surgery but had gone to the dentist 2 days prior for a cleaning. It hasn’t gone away in 2 months. Now I am supposed to have surgery and am wondering what will happen with my left ear!

  7. I went in the hospital on Christmas Eve in 2016 , to have a hysterectomy. They told me to get ready but before putting on my hospital gown , the nurse said you need to go get your blood drawn .. remind you super anemic one of the reasons for the surgery.. right after the blood was drawn … my hearing was gone in my left ear 🙁 I told the doctor before surgery… he said it’s probably wax .. so I still
    Had the surgery… no doubt being super anemic + blood drawn = my hearing gone !!! Who’s fault is it ??

  8. I had a hysterectomy 2 weeks ago. Yesterday I got dizzy and my hearing started getting weird. I had general anesthesia. 2nd day now I’m having a hard time with my right ear. I hear alot of base sounds and it is making me alittle confused in the head as well. Ringing in ear too. Wondering if there is a connection and will it get worse or go away??

  9. 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?

  10. 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

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

  14. 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.

  15. 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 you@@@ THOMAS


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