Zoloft and SSHL


Hello All,

This past Monday I started taking Zoloft 50mg. On Tuesday I felt very dizzy, lightheaded, and a bit out of it figuring it was a side of the Zoloft. Wednesday came and I had the same symptoms as I did on Tuesday, and also noticed I had major hearing loss in my right ear (which is my bad ear). When I covered up my left ear (my good ear) I couldn’t hear a thing. Even with my hearing aid in I was unable to hear anything. After researching SSHL I got myself over to my ENT yesterday and sure enough I was diagnosed with SSHL. My ENT told me to stop the Zoloft immediately (since i’ve only been taking it 3 days), and started me on prednisone 60mg/day. By the end of the day yesterday I began to hear a little bit in my right ear. Today there hasn’t been much, if any improvement but I can hear a little bit. Its good that I know I haven’t lost my hearing completely in my right ear but its very scary. I’ve read that ototoxic meds can cause hearing loss and Zoloft is an ototoxic med.

Just wondering if anyone has had or knows anyone that has had similar side effects to any ototoxic meds.

He didn’t say the SSHL was due to the Zoloft but he did say that timing of the two (starting the zoloft and the SSHL) is too much of a coincidence.

Anyways any info, advice, experiences, or feedback is greatly appreciated as always.

Got lots of great info from this site.

Happy Good Friday to everyone!!



Hi mattyg18;

I’m sorry to hear of your zoloft experience. While I can’t speak to SSNHL with zoloft, I can tell you that when I went through a bout of depression last summer, my psychologist, who is a bilateral hearing aid user, strongly cautioned me NOT to use antidepressants unless they were absolutely necessary. Her reason? From her reading and experience, many, if not all antidepressants are ototoxic. The SSRI class, to which zoloft belongs, is particularly notorious for this. When I spoke with my family physician about this, he had no idea! I’ve since changed to a new family physician, and she, too, had no idea that many antidepressants are ototoxic. As a former medical professional, I think this is an area in which medical professionals need a lot more training!!! From my experience, most medical professionals don’t even consider the possibility of ototoxicity when prescribing medications. In my opinion, some medical professionals don’t take the long-term impact of the medications they prescribe into account. Case-in-point: I had an ear infection last summer and my GP wanted to give me gentamycin, which is known to be very, VERY ototoxic. I said no and educated my then-doctor on my rationale for doing so.

Anyway, I am really sorry you are going through this. I’m sure it’s unnerving to go to bed hearing as you normally do and wake up the next day not hearing as much. I hope that the prednisone continues to work for you and that your hearing returns to its former state. (That said, DON’T stop the prednisone suddenly on your own!!! Even if your hearing returns, follow the ENT’s directions to a T. It needs to be tapered properly to prevent untoward side effects.) Good luck, and keep us posted!



Oh my gosh, THANK YOU For posting this! I was switched to Zoloft in Sept / Oct, (have to check) and had SSHL in my left ear Oct 21st. Been back and forth to ENT, had intratympanic injections, etc. NO ONE ever suggested there may be a connection! I definitely need to investigate this!




I don’t think there’s any way of knowing for certain that zoloft was the cause of your SSHL, or whether it was just a coincidence in terms of timing. I’ve never read anything that directly says it, or any other SSRI, causes SSHL, but it is known to be on some lists of ototoxic drugs. I’m NOT an expert!!! I can’t stress that enough: I’m NOT an expert:) I’m a former nurse practitioner who, when confronted with her own hearing loss, did a little bit of research to see what drugs to use cautiously or avoid. There are several different lists of ototoxic drugs on the internet. My ENT wouldn’t confirm anything when I asked him about these drugs, other than to say there may be a connection between certain drugs and hearing loss. (Although some cancer drugs are known to cause hearing loss from what I understand.) I suspect there needs to be a great deal more research done in the area of ototoxicity…





Its funny that your ENT wouldn’t confirm anything about the correlation between the zoloft and the SSHL because my ENT said the exact same thing. His answer was that it was just too much of a coincidence that they happened at the same time. My gut feeling is that it was the cause but of course there is no way of telling for sure, and may never be but who knows. It could be that the drug manufacturers don’t want this info to get out into the public but whose to tell for sure. Agreed that there needs to be more research done in this field.

Thanks for your input!




I did a quick Google search and found some lists. Several of the meds I am on now, or have been on previously, show up. Naproxen, I’ve been on a high dose since Jan 2007 for knee pain (waiting for knee replacement surgery, long story). So I’m not as ‘excited’ if that is the right word, as I was when I initially saw your post.

My ENT was non committal on everything re SSHL - causes, treatment, prognosis, and from what I have found online, he was right, there really is not much ‘for sure and certain’ about it.




Has your hearing recovered at all? And if you don’t mind me asking are you still taking zoloft?


— Updated —


Has your hearing recovered at all? And if you don’t mind me asking are you still taking zoloft?




Yes, I am still taking Zoloft; as several of my meds were on the ototoxic lists I found, and some I’ve been taking for years, I decided it may just be coincidence. Any of the options in place of zoloft are either also on the lists, or I’ve used them in the past for some years until they stopped working for me.

My hearing has gotten worse.

Background: sshl on Oct 21, 2013, I woke up and within seconds my left ear felt ‘full.’ Saw my PCP same day, she prescribed Flonase. After 10 day sno improvement, she referred me to ENT. What with several hearing tests and such, it was 3 weeks before I actually saw him. Wish my PCP had known about the hum test; when I found that I printed it and took it in to her. ENT diagnosed sshl.

Did intratympanic injections of decadron, 1 per week for 3 weeks. Waited one week, redid hearing test. Improvement, so ENT said wait 3 months, return and repeat hearing test. That test showed a decline below even the initial hearing test. ENT ordered brain scan to rule out neuroma / tumor. MRI came back clear. Did 2 more intratympanic injections, redid hearing test. IF that test had shown improvement, ENT was going to insert a tube and have me put in drops at home. That test showed continued decline.

Based on family history and also my health condition, ENT said can now rule out viral cause; this is aied: auto immune inner ear disease. Hearing in left ear may stay as is, may get worse rapidly, may be as it for 5 years and then get worse. Right ear is at risk, may be impacted next week or not for 5 years or never. No way to tell. As for the hearing loss in my left ear, I can either live with it, or get a hearing aid. We discussed how much it is bothering me, and agreed I should explore a hearing aid.

Which is how I came to find this forum.



Hi Freedom,

I have very similar experience. I have been taking Zoloft for about a month and 5 days ago, I woke up in the middle of the night with a bad pain in my left ear and tinnitus. I went to a doctor and he said it was wax buildup, they cleaned my ears and prescribed antibiotics. But it didn’t help. So I went to an ENT yesterday and I was diagnosed with SSHL. He prescribed high does prednisone. I have been taking it for two days but it seems it is not working and my hearing in my left ear is worse.

Do you have any update on your hearing?Does anyone know a good ENT specialized in SSHL?

I am only 32, my ENT said it is possible that I lost my left ear hearing permanently. I am so worried :frowning:

For anyone who read this and have similar experience with Zoloft and some kind of hearing loss or tinnitus, GO TO AN ENT IMMEDIATELY!




I also have AIED sadly not much you can do when you need the medication for AID and it gives you SSHL. It’s a viscous circle. It’s either be crippled with the AID or be HOH from the medication…Tough choices to make… That said no one told me about the complications from the medications 20 yrs ago which does not impress me one little bit. Even the blurb that comes with the medication today does not mention anything about being Ototoxic.




I was the OP for this thread and for what its worth my hearing did come back about 60-70% of what I had left after staying on the pred. for a while. I do wear HA’s and have Otosclerosis so I’ve learned to live with it. Stopped the Zoloft immediately when I noticed the hearing loss and my gut feeling is that Zoloft was the cause. I’m not a Dr but I do recall you have to play around with the dosage in order to find out what will eventually work, and reverse the loss. I was taking about 100mg/day in the beginning and then tapered off.

Although everyone reacts differently, I do think your hearing will start to come back with the prednisone although it sucks having to take that stuff. I’m in NY and was happy with my ENT. Not sure where you are but he’s in Garden City.

Anyhow good luck with your recovery and stay positive!




Thank you so much for your reply. My hearing is still getting worse and I am so worried that I cannot sleep.
I stopped Zoloft 3 days ago, I start to have worse depression and anxiety. I know you are not a dr or therapist. But my husband fought with me today and I just feel really depressed now. Thank you for your positive words and I really appreciate it.



You should not be stopping Zoloft cold turkey. You need to ween yourself off of it. Do some Google research, cold turkey comes with lots of its own nasty side effects. Do you have a regular psychiatrist prescribing this for you? They should be helping you find an alternative. Are you in therapy for whatever caused the depression/anxiety in the first place? Is your husband part of the problem?
I’m no doctor, but my wife has been on Zoloft for almost 2 years. We’ve done a lot of research on it. And on depression and anxiety.