Gentamicin/Amikacin ototoxicity (poisoning):
Gentamicin sulfate is a powerful antibiotic delivered intravenously to patients in hospitals, nursing homes, and home healthcare settings to combat severe infections. Gentamicin is an effective treatment, but only when properly administered and monitored by a medical professional. In the past fifteen to twenty years, newer, less toxic antibiotics have replaced gentamicin as a drug of choice for many infections. In some cases the aminoglycoside amikacin is substituted for gentamicin. Extended use and high dosages of aminoglycosides such as gentamicin or amikacin can result in serious and permanent personal injury.
Tobramycin/Gentamicin sinus rinses:
Tobramycin and gentamicin are used as a sinus rinse to treat gram-negative bacteria, such as Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Studies have demonstrated that significant systemic absorption occurs from sinus rinses with a relatively low aminoglycoside concentration. Extended use of aminoglycoside rinses, or rinses with an inappropriately high aminoglycoside concentration can result in serious and permanent personal injury.
Aminoglycoside eye drops (prescribed off label for the ear):
Aminoglycoside eye drops are sometimes prescribed off label for persons with a defect in their tympanic membrane, which can lead to vestibular damage in the affected ear. This condition is exacerbated if both ears are treated, or if there is a long duration of exposure. Although quite rare a person may develop bilateral vestibulopathy as a result of this therapy.
If you have been treated with an aminoglycoside:
If so, you may be the victim of gentamicin-induced ototoxicity or vestibulotoxicity, more commonly known as gentamicin poisoning.
Gentamicin (sometimes spelled gentamycin) is an antibiotic that first went into commercial production more than 60 years ago. At that time, it was the only antibiotic available to treat many infections. Doctors quickly discovered it could have a devastating effect to the inner ear, causing permanent balance impairment and bouncing vision (oscillopsia).
For many years, physicians had no good alternatives to gentamicin for certain types of infections and continued to use it even though the potential side effects were well known.
Over the past two decades, numerous new antibiotics have been developed that do not carry the same side effects as gentamicin. There are extremely few circumstances today, in fact, where long term gentamicin therapy is the best choice. If gentamicin is used, the dosage and treatment period should be minimal, and most importantly, the prescriber must be very familiar with the severe side effects and understand published strategies to avoid these devastating side effects.
The low cost alternative:
Unfortunately, because of gentamicin’s low cost, some physicians and pharmacists, as well as other healthcare providers who don’t appreciate the substantial risks, still prescribe gentamicin with alarming frequency.
The following video presentation demonstrates the cause and effect of aminoglycoside poisoning and how it can impact all facets of a person’s life:
Keith S. Douglass & Associates, LLP
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