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Study of the effect of combined interferon and ribavirin therapy on the hearing profile of hepatitis C virus patients




This study aimed to study the effect of combined pegylated interferon and ribavirin (Peg-IFN/RBV) therapy on the hearing profile of patients with hepatitis C virus (HCV).

Materials and methods

The auditory system of a total of 74 chronic HCV patients was assessed using pure tone audiometry (conventional and high frequency) and distortion product otoacoustic emissions (DPOAEs in the form of a DP-gram) immediately before therapy and at the end of the 12th and 24th weeks. Vestibulocochlear adverse effects including hearing loss, tinnitus, vertigo, and otalgia were also considered.


Significant elevations in hearing thresholds were found on comparing thresholds at the 12th and 24th weeks with those at the onset of the study. The elevations were mostly at higher frequencies (3000, 4000, 6000, 8000, 9000, 10 000, 11 200, and 12 500 Hz), and did not affect speech perception. For DPOAE, significant differences were observed at all F2 frequencies on comparing both amplitudes and signal to noise ratios at the 12th and 24th weeks with those before therapy, with significance appearing earlier for higher F2 frequencies. Otologic complaints were insignificant, except for tinnitus; a significant increase in tinnitus was observed from 0 to 31.1% by the end of the study.


Significant auditory adverse effects may result from combined Peg-IFN/RBV therapy in HCV patients, highlighting the importance of prompt monitoring of auditory functions in these patients.


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Corresponding author

Correspondence to Samir Asal MD.

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Asal, S., Sobhy, O., Ismail, O. et al. Study of the effect of combined interferon and ribavirin therapy on the hearing profile of hepatitis C virus patients. Egypt J Otolaryngol 31, 237–243 (2015).

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  • audiometry
  • distortion product otoacoustic emissions
  • hepatitis
  • interferon
  • ribavirin