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Tinnitus Causes and Treatments

Tinnitus is that sensation of hearing ringing, buzzing, hissing, chirping, whistling or other sounds. The noise can be intermittent or continuous, and can vary in loudness. It's often worse when background noise is low, so you may be most aware of it in a quiet room. In rare cases, the sound beats in sync with your heart. About 12 million people seek medical help for tinnitus every year.

If you have tinnitus you might find that the volume and pitch of the tinnitus changes when you look far to the side.

What causes tinnitus?

The exact cause of tinnitus is unknown. There are, however, several likely sources, all of which are known to trigger or worsen tinnitus.
  • Loud Noise - Loud noises can damage and destroy certain cells in the inner ear, called cilia. Once damaged, these cells cannot be renewed or replaced. Up to 90 percent of all tinnitus patients have some level of hearing loss.
  • Certain medications - Some medications are toxic to the ear and others will produce tinnitus as a side effect without damaging the inner ear. The effects can be temporary or permanent. If you have tinnitus, make sure that your physician is aware this condition before getting any prescription medication and discuss what alternatives that may be available.
  • Ear or sinus infections - Many people, including children, experience tinnitus along with an ear or sinus infection. Tinnitus caused by infection will lessen and gradually go away as the infection heals.
  • Wax build-up in the ear - Sometimes people produce enough ear wax that their hearing can be affected and tinnitus results. If you produce a lot of earwax, speak to a specialist, an otolaryngologist (also called an ear, nose, and throat doctor) about having excess wax removed, but don't try that a home.
  • Tumors - In rare cases, people have a benign and slow-growing tumor on their auditory, vestibular, or facial nerves. These rare tumors can cause tinnitus, deafness, facial paralysis, and loss of balance.
  • Cardiovascular disease - A vascular condition can cause a pulsatile tinnitus when the blood flowing through veins and arteries is compromised either by hypertension or hardening of the arteries. People with this type of tinnitus typically hear a rhythmic pulsing, often in time with a heartbeat. About 3 percent of tinnitus patients experience pulsatile tinnitus.
  • Head and neck trauma - A Physical blow to the head and neck can induce tinnitus. When caused by trama, this tinnitus sometimes accompanied by headaches, vertigo, and memory loss.
  • Jaw misalignment or TMJ - A misaligned jaw joint or jaw muscles can induce tinnitus. Many dentists specialize in this treatment (called temporomandibular jaw alignment) and can provide relief if your tinnitus is caused by TMJ.

Alternative Treatments

Alternative treatments generally carry little risk to your health and some people do find them helpful. They include but are not limited to the following:
  • Minerals such as magnesium or zinc
  • Herbal preparations such as Ginkgo biloba
  • Homeopathic remedies
  • B vitamins
  • Acupuncture
  • Cranio-sacral therapy
  • Magnets
  • Hyperbaric oxygen
  • Hypnosis

Hearing Aids

Some people with hearing loss experience total or partial tinnitus relief while wearing hearing aids. If you have hearing loss in the frequency range of the tinnitus the hearing aids may bring back the ambient sounds that naturally cover the tinnitus.

Cochlear Implants

Sometimes referred to as electrical stimulation, a cochlear implant has two parts. The first is an electrode array that is threaded into the cochlea, that small bone in the inner ear that is shaped like a snail shell. The other part is a receiver that is implanted just beneath the skin behind the ear. The electrode array then sends electrical sound signals from the ear to the brain. These implants are prescribed only to deaf or near-deaf patients because the implantation destroys whatever healthy hair cells were left inside the cochlea. About half of those with tinnitus experience relief with cochlear implants.

Sound Therapy

There are various treatment strategies that use sound to decrease the loudness or prominence of tinnitus. Sound therapies include both wearable (hearing aid-like devices) and non-wearable devices (such as table-top sound machines or even a whirring fan). Sound is used to partially or completely cover the tinnitus, sometimes referred to as masking. Sound therapies should always be combined with counseling.

Biofeedback

Biofeedback is a technique that teaches you to control some autonomic body functions, such as skin temperature, pulse, and muscle tension. The goal is to help you manage stress, not by reducing the stress but by changing your body's reaction to stress. Many people notice a reduction in their tinnitus when they are able to modify their reaction to their stress.

Cognitive Therapy

Cognitive therapy is a type of counseling based on treating your emotional reaction to tinnitus rather than the tinnitus itself. A counselor helps you identify negative thought patterns and then alter them. Cognitive Therapy programs are individually designed for patients and are most effective when coupled with other tinnitus treatments.

TMJ Treatment

A dysfunction of the jaw joint can sometimes result in Tinnitus (temporomandibular joint, or TMJ). This can happen because muscles and nerves in the jaw are closely connected to those in the ear. Problems with bite alignment can sometimes interfere with nerves in the ear. When a dentist realigns the bite this can help relieve TMJ pain and associated tinnitus. See your dentist if you think you have this problem.

Drug Therapy

Many drugs are being researched and used to relieve tinnitus, however, there is no single drug designed specifically to treat tinnitus. Some drugs that have been studied include;
  • anti-anxiety drugs like Xanax
  • antidepressants like nortriptyline
  • antihistamines
  • anticonvulsants like gabapentin
  • anesthetics like lidocaine
All successfully quieted tinnitus for some people. Remember to talk to your doctor about the side effects of the medications you currently take.

Drug Induced Tinnitus

On the other hand, that ringing in the ears may be caused by one of your medications. Many drugs have tinnitus listed as a side effect. Here's a partial list:
  • Abilify(r) - aripiprazole
  • Accutane(r) - isotretinoin
  • Aceon(r) - perindopril erbumine
  • Aciphex(r) - rabeprazole sodium
  • Actiq(r) - transmucosal fentanyl citrate
  • Actonel(r) - risedronate sodium
  • Adalat(r) cc - nifedipine
  • Aggrenox(r) - aspirin/dipyridamole)
  • Agrylin(r) - anagrelide hydrochloride
  • Alferon n injection(r) - interferon alfa-n3 (human leukocyte derived)
  • Alka-seltzer(r)
  • Aloxi(tm) - palonosetron hydrochloride
  • Altace(r) - ramipril
  • Ambien(r) - zolpidem tartrate
  • Ambien - zolpidem
  • Amerge(r) - naratriptan hydrochloride
  • Amnesteem(r) - isotretinoin
  • Anaprox ds, anaprox, naprosyn, ec-naprosyn
  • Anzemet(r) - dolasetron mesylate
  • Aralen(r) - chloroquine phosphate
  • Aricept(r) - donepezil hydrochloride
  • Asacol(r) - mesalamine
  • Aspirin -
  • Atacand hct(r) - candesartan cilexetil - hydrochlorothiazide
  • Atrovent(r) - ipratropium bromide
  • Avelox(r) - moxifloxacin hydrochloride
  • Axert(r) - almotriptan malate
  • Azactam(r) - aztreonam for injection
  • Bayer(r) children's chewable tablets - aspirin
  • Bc(r)
  • Bextra(r) - valdecoxib
  • Biaxin(r) - clarithromycin
  • Bicillin(r) l-a - penicillin g benzathine suspension
  • Blocadren(r) - timolol maleate
  • Buprenex(r) - buprenorphine hydrochloride
  • Bupropion hydrochloride (Zyban)
  • Caduet(r) - amlodipine besylate/atorvastatin calcium
  • Campral(r) - acamprosate calcium
  • Capastat(r) sulfate - capreomycin
  • Carbatrol(r) - carbamazepine extended-release capsules
  • Cardene(r) - nicardipine hydrochloride
  • Cardizem(r) la - diltiazem hydrochloride
  • Cataflam(r) - diclofenac potassium
  • Celebrex(r) - celecoxib
  • Celexa(r) - citalopram hydrobromide
  • Cellcept -
  • Cipro(r) i.v. - ciprofloxacin
  • Clinoril(r) - sulindac
  • Clomid(r) - clomiphene citrate
  • Colazal(r) - balsalazide disodium
  • Copaxone(r) - glatiramer acetate
  • Coreg(r) - carvedilol
  • Corzide(r) - nadolol and bendroflumethiazide
  • Cosopt(r) - dorzolamide hydrochloride-timolol maleate
  • Covera-hs(r) - verapamil hydrochloride
  • Cozaar(r) - losartan potassium
  • Cuprimine(r) - penicillamine
  • Cytovene(r) - ganciclovir sodium
  • Dapsone tablets jacobus
  • Daranide(r) dichlorphenamide
  • Demadex(r) - torsemide
  • Depacon(r) - valproate sodium
  • Depakene(r) - valproic acid
  • Depakote(r)
  • Desferal(r) - deferoxamine mesylate
  • Diovan hct tablets -
  • Dipentum(r) - olsalazine sodium
  • Diprivan(r) - propofol
  • Divalproex sodium coated particles
  • Dolobid(r) - diflunisal)
  • Doxil(r) - doxorubicin hcl liposome
  • Dynacin(r) - minocycline hcl
  • Ec-naprosyn
  • Ecotrin - aspirin
  • Effexor(r) - venlafaxine hydrochloride
  • Eldepryl(r) - selegiline hydrochloride
  • Elmiron(r) - pentosan polysulfate sodium
  • Emend(r) - aprepitant
  • Engerix-b(r) - hepatitis b vaccine
  • Eskalith(r) - lithium carbonate
  • Evoxac(r) - cevimeline hydrochloride
  • Excedrin(r) pain reliever
  • Exelon(r) - rivastigmine tartrate
  • Flexeril(r) - cyclobenzaprine hcl
  • Floxin(r) otic - ofloxacin otic
  • Flumadine(r) - rimantadine hydrochloride
  • Fortovase(r) - saquinavir
  • Gabitril(r) - tiagabine hydrochloride
  • Gastrocrom(r) - cromolyn sodium
  • Gengraf(r) capsules - cyclosporine
  • Geodon(r) - ziprasidone hcl and ziprasidone mesylate
  • Gleevec(r) - imatinib mesylate
  • Hivid(r) - zalcitabine
  • Hytrin(r) - terazosin hydrochloride
  • Hyzaar(r) - losartan potassium-hydrochlorothiazide
  • Imitrex(r) - sumatriptan
  • Indocin(r) indomethacin
  • Infergen(r) - interferon alfacon-1
  • Intron(r) a - interferon alfa-2b
  • Invirase(r) - saquinavir mesylate
  • Isoptin(r) sr - verapamil hcl
  • Kaletra(r) - lopinavir/ritonavir
  • Kaopectate(r)
  • Lamictal(r) - lamotrigine
  • Lariam(r) - mefloquine hydrochloride
  • Levaquin
  • Levitra(r) - vardenafil hcl
  • Lexapro(r) - escitalopram oxalate
  • Lidoderm(r) - lidocaine
  • Lipitor(r) - atorvastatin calcium
  • Lotensin hct tablets
  • Lotrel capsules
  • Lupron depot(r) - leuprolide acetate
  • Maalox(r) - bismuth subsalicylate
  • Marinol(r) - dronabinol
  • Maxalt(r) - rizatriptan benzoate
  • Meridia(r) - sibutramine hydrochloride monohydrate
  • Miacalcin(r) - calcitonin-salmon
  • Micardis(r) - telmisartan
  • Micardis(r) hct - telmisartan and hydrochlorothiazide
  • Midamor(r) tablets - amiloride hcl
  • Mintezol(r) thiabendazole
  • Mirapex(r) - pramipexole dihydrochloride
  • Mobic(r) - meloxicam
  • Moduretic(r) amiloride hcl-hydrochlorothiazide
  • Motrin(r) ibuprofen suspension
  • Mustargen(r) - mechlorethamine hcl
  • Nadolol - mylan
  • Namenda(tm) - memantine hydrochloride
  • Naprosyn
  • Naropin(r) - ropivacaine hcl
  • Neoral(r) - cyclosporine
  • Neurontin -
  • Nexium(r) - esomeprazole magnesium
  • Nipent(r) - pentostatin
  • Noroxin(r) - norfloxacin
  • Norpramin(r) - desipramine hydrochloride
  • Norvasc(r) - amlodipine besylate
  • Norvir(r) - ritonavir
  • Orthoclone okt(r)3 muromonab-cd3
  • Oxycontin(r) - oxycodone hcl
  • Parnate(r) - tranylcypromine sulfate
  • Paxil cr(tm) - paroxetine hydrochloride
  • Pediazole(r) - erythromycin ethylsuccinate and sulfisoxazole acetyl
  • Pepcid(r) - famotidine
  • Pepto-bismol(r)
  • Permax(r) - pergolide
  • Phenergan(r) - promethazine hcl
  • Plaquenil(r) - hydroxychloroquine sulfate
  • Pletal(r) - cilostazol
  • Prevacid -
  • Prevpac(r) - lansoprazole, amoxicillin, and clarithromycin
  • Prilosec otc(tm) -
  • Primaxin(r) i.m. - imipenem and cilastatin
  • Prinivil(r) tablets - lisinopril
  • Prinzide(r) tablets - lisinopril-hydrochlorothiazide
  • Prograf(r) - tacrolimus
  • Prosom(tm) - estazolam tablets
  • Protonix(r) - pantoprazole sodium
  • Prozac(r) - fluoxetine hydrochloride
  • Rapamune(r) - sirolimus
  • Recombivax hb(r) - hepatitis b vaccine (recombinant)
  • Relafen(r) - nabumetone
  • Relpax(r) - eletriptan hydrobromide
  • Requip(r) - ropinirole hydrochloride
  • Rescriptor(r) - delavirdine mesylate
  • Reyataz(r) - atazanavir sulfate
  • Rifater(r) - rifampin, isoniazid and pyrazinamide
  • Risperdal(r) - risperidone
  • Romazicon(r) - flumazenil
  • Rythmol(r) sr - propafenone hydrochloride
  • Salagen(r) tablets - pilocarpine hydrochloride
  • Sandimmune -
  • Sandostatin lar(r) depot - octreotide acetate
  • Sedapap(r) tablets - butalbital and acetaminophen
  • Septra(r) tablets - trimethoprim and sulfamethoxazole
  • Seroquel(r) - quetiapine fumarate
  • Sonata(r) - zaleplon
  • Soriatane(r) - acitretin
  • Sporanox(r) - itraconazole
  • St. Joseph 81 mg aspirin
  • Streptomycin sulfate injection
  • Sular(r) - nisoldipine
  • Surmontil(r) - trimipramine maleate
  • Sustiva(r) - efavirenz
  • Symbyax(tm) - olanzapine and fluoxetine
  • Tambocor(tm) - flecainide acetate
  • Tarka(r) - trandolapril/verapamil hydrochloride
  • Tasmar(r) - tolcapone
  • Tegretol -
  • Tequin injection, tequin tablets
  • Teveten(r) - eprosartan mesylate
  • Teveten(r) hct - eprosartan mesylate/hydrochlorothiazide
  • Thalomid(r) - thalidomide
  • Tiazac(r) - diltiazem hydrochloride
  • Ticlid(r) - ticlopidine hydrochloride
  • Timolide(r) tablets - timolol maleate-hydrochlorothiazide
  • Timolol gfs - timolol maleate
  • Timoptic(r) - timolol maleate
  • Tobi(r) - tobramycin solution for inhalation
  • Topamax(r) - topiramate
  • Toprol-xl(r) - metoprolol succinate
  • Toradol(r) - ketorolac tromethamine
  • Tricor(r) - fenofibrate
  • Trileptal(r) - oxcarbazepine
  • Trisenox(r) - arsenic trioxide
  • Twinrix(r) - hepatitis a inactivated & hepatitis b (recombinant) vaccine
  • Ultracet(tm) - tramadol hydrochloride/acetaminophen
  • Ultram(r) - tramadol hydrochloride
  • Uniretic(r) - moexipril hcl/hydrochlorothiazide
  • Univasc(r) - moexipril hydrochloride
  • Vancocin(r) hcl - vancomycin hydrocloride
  • Vantin(r) - cefpodoxime proxetil
  • Vaseretic tablets
  • Verelan(r) pm - verapamil hydrochloride
  • Vfend(r) i.v. - voriconazole
  • Viagra(r) - sildenafil citrate
  • Vicoprofen(r) - hydrocodone bitartrate and ibuprofen
  • Vioxx(r) - rofecoxib
  • Vivactil(r) - protriptyline hcl
  • Voltaren(r) - diclofenac sodium
  • Wellbutrin(r) (Zyban) - bupropion hydrochloride
  • Xanax(r) - alprazolam
  • Xifaxan(tm) - rifaximin
  • Zegerid(tm) - omeprazole
  • Zithromax(r) - azithromycin
  • Zoloft(r) - sertraline hydrochloride
  • Zomig(r) - zolmitriptan
  • Zonegran(r) - zonisamide
  • Zosyn(r) - piperacillin and tazobactam
  • Zyban(r) - bupropion hydrochloride
  • Zyprexa intramuscular, tablets, orally disintegrating tablets
  • Zyrtec(r) - cetirizine hydrochloride

For questions and answers about tinnitus, see the Tinnitus forum.

Most recent post: April 9, 2017

 

This consumer advocate website is protected by copyright 2002-2017 Askdocweb, Inc. All Rights Reserved. This is a layman's report on tinnitus and is not intended to replace discussions with a health care provider. Do not use the information on this forum as a substitute for your doctor's advice. Always consult your doctor before taking any drug and follow your doctor's directions. Source material: Food and Drug Administration, Medline, Physician's Desk Reference, and the largest community of people in the world, those who are concerned about side effects and healthcare.
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