The erectile dysfunction drug Viagra and several medications like it may cause long term ear problems, possibly including hearing loss, according to a recent study.

The study was conducted by medical researchers at the University of Alabama Birmingham.

Viagra and several other well known erectile dysfunction medications, including Cialis and Levitra, are classified as phosphodiesterase type 5 inhibitor or PDE-5i drugs.In 2007, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration decided to promote improved labeling of erectile dysfunction medications so that men would be more aware of possible side effects like hearing loss. The Alabama study came in response. As time passed after the introduction of so-called “ED” drugs, the FDA began receiving reports of negative side effects – especially ear problems and hearing difficulties.

Gerald McGwin, a professor of epidemiology at UAB’s School of Public Health, stated that “findings that the current government warning regarding hearing loss and use of PDE-5i drugs are warranted.”

McGwin admitted that there were limitations to the scope of the UAB study, but men using the PDE-5i medications should be aware of possible side effects and seek medical attention quickly if they begin to show symptoms of ear health problems. By being proactive in this way, they might forestall any future hearing loss.

Survey information came from 11,500 men over the age of 40. McGwin and his researchers evaluated data collected by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, which is part of the federal government. Data was collected during a three year period from 2003 to 2006. McGwin and his team of researchers found that men who said they used PDE-5i drugs had double the risk for developing hearing problems as those who did not.

As for the reason for a connection between hearing loss and ED medications, researchers say it may have something to do with the original purpose for the development of the PDE-5i drugs. The original formulation was designed to reduce high blood pressure. It was only after test subjects reported that it also reduced erectile dysfunction that researchers began looking at it for other uses.

Erectile dysfunction medications are effective because they increase blood flow to a number of the areas of the body. But while better blood flow may benefit some areas, it could possibly harm others – particularly the ears – accounting for hearing loss.

Viagra was originally developed and marketed by the pharmaceutical giant, Pfizer Corporation, as a treatment for erectile dysfunction. When it made it’s debut, it became known as “The Little Blue Pill” because of its color..

Researchers at Pfizer’s research facility in Kent, England, were trying to find a medication for high blood pressure and ischaemic heart disease. They formulated a drug which they called Sildenafil. . It was originally called Sildenafil.~Viagra was originally formulated at a Pfizer’s research facility in England as a treatment for high blood pressure related to heart disease. Chemists working on the project called the drug Sildenafil.} The original goal was to improve circulation around the heart and relieve chest pains. Clinical trials were conducted in the early 90’s. Researchers eventually learned that while Sildenafil did little to relieve angina, it proved remarkably effective in relieving erectile dysfunction.

Pfizer decided to market the drug as Viagra and got a patent in 1996. It was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 1998.

Viagra immediately became a huge success. It is still the best known oral drug treatment of its kind, although several other companies have developed competing brands. In the first three years Viagra was on the market, more than one billion “little blue pills” were sold. Although sales growth has slowed in recent years, Pfizer still sells between 400 and 450 million dollars worth of Viagra annually.