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 medications

Few medications seem to work to resolve 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 11/22/2013

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