Tinnitus (Ringing in the Ears) (cont.)

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What are the treatments for tinnitus?

Tinnitus is a common complaint, and up to 20% of Americans have experienced it. This symptom may last for only weeks or months and then resolve spontaneously, though for some individuals it may last for years. The tinnitus may be significant enough to interfere with an individual's activities of daily living. For this reason, treatment may be directed at decreasing the effect of tinnitus on daily life. The depression and insomnia that are sometimes associated with tinnitus may also need to be addressed.

For the small number of patients who have a vascular cause for tinnitus, repairing the abnormal blood vessel may help reduce the noise.

For those patients whose tinnitus is caused by an adverse or toxic reaction to a medication, stopping the drug may allow the hearing mechanism to recover.

Tinnitus relief remedies

The following common and easy remedies may be of benefit to some individuals with tinnitus.

  • Reducing or avoiding caffeine and salt intake, as well as quitting smoking may help relieve tinnitus symptoms.
  • Some patients with tinnitus have been found to have lower zinc levels and may benefit from zinc supplementation.
  • One study showed melatonin may help tinnitus sufferers, particularly those with disturbed sleep due to the tinnitus. However, this has not  yet been verified in controlled studies.
  • Ginkgo biloba has been touted as a natural tinnitus remedy, though controlled studies to date have not shown it to be effective.
  • There are some behavioral and cognitive therapies that have been successful in treating tinnitus. Seeking out a multidisciplinary program at a tinnitus center may improve the chances of successful treatment. The types of therapies include tinnitus retraining therapy, masking, and behavioral therapy.

Tinnitus medications

There are few medications that seem to be effective in the treatment of tinnitus. Two that have shown some mild benefit include alprazolam (Xanax), a benzodiazepine that may also help with the anxiety and insomnia associated with tinnitus, and dexamethasone (Decadron), a steroid that can be injected into the inner ear to help decrease inflammation.

Depression is often associated with tinnitus, and antidepressant medications have worked in some instances to decrease the intensity or resolve the noise altogether.

Some small studies have suggested that the prostaglandin analogue, misoprostol (Cytotec), may be of some help for certain patients with tinnitus. Many other medications that have been used historically for tinnitus, however, have not demonstrated compelling evidence to necessarily recommend their routine use. These include lidocaine, anti-seizure medications, niacin, and other over-the-counter dietary and herbal supplements.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 12/9/2014

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