Erythromycin-Induced Ototoxicity: A Case Report and Review of the Literature


  • Marianne J. Nagata Sunnybrook and Women’s College Health Sciences Centre
  • Sandra A.N. Tailor Sunnybrook and Women’s College Health Sciences Centre, University of Toronto




Erythromycin is considered a safe antibiotic.
However, advanced age, renal dysfunction, hepatic
dysfunction, and high-dose erythromycin (Ž 4 g/day)
are risk factors for erythromycin-induced ototoxicity.
This condition usually presents as significant bilateral
hearing loss, with tinnitus and vertigo occurring in a
minority of cases. The ototoxicity develops quickly, with
a typical onset of 3 to 4 days, and is usually reversible
upon a reduction of the dose or discontinuation of the
drug, although there are 4 published cases of
irreversible ototoxicity. Erythromycin-induced ototoxicity
may be an underrecognized adverse effect. Clinicians
should be aware of the potential for this problem and
should monitor for signs of ototoxicity, especially in
patients with any of the known risk factors. We report a
case of erythromycin-induced ototoxicity and review the
literature on this adverse effect.


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Case Report(s) / Observation(s) clinique(s)