Can Prescription Drugs Cause Ringing in the Ears?

Tinnitus, or a ringing in the ears (this can also be a whooshing or pulsing), is generally the first symptom of ototoxicity and is generally short lived, but it can have more permanent symptoms.

About Tinnitus

Simply defined, tinnitus is a phantom ringing, whooshing, or buzzing noise in your ear that only you can hear. People experience tinnitus in a variety of ways: In some, a headshake will make the annoyance vanish; others, however, describe the condition as debilitating. Though research is ongoing, there is currently no cure. But relief can come from a variety of treatments.

About Ototoxicity

Ototoxicity is a poisoning of the inner ear due to exposure to or ingestion of medications or chemicals that can cause tinnitus, hearing loss, and/or balance disorders. High doses or long-term use of certain antibiotics, antidepressants, loop diuretics, pain relievers, and prescription or over-the-counter medications can cause ototoxicity.

Drugs that can cause tinnitus:
  • Antibiotics
  • Anesthetics
  • Antimalarials
  • Vapors, solvents
  • Cardiac medications
  • Glucocorticosteroids
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
  • Psychopharmacologic agents
  • Miscellaneous toxic substances
  • Anti-neoplastics
  • Diuretics
Drugs that can cause more permanent tinnitus symptoms:
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
  • Certain antibiotics
  • Certain cancer medications
  • Water pills and diuretics
  • Quinine-based medications

The effects caused by ototoxic drugs can sometimes be reversed when the drug is stopped. Sometimes, however, the damage is permanent.

Tinnitus can be managed through strategies that make it less bothersome. No single approach works for everyone, and there is no FDA-approved drug treatment, supplement, or herbal remedy proven to be any more effective than a placebo. Behavioral strategies and sound-generating devices often offer the best treatment results — this is partially why distracting the individual’s attention from these sounds can prevent a chronic manifestation.

Some of the most effective methods are:
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
  • Tinnitus-retraining therapy
  • Masking
  • Biofeedback

Managing Tinnitus While Taking Ototoxic Medication

We can work with your prescribing physician to monitor your hearing and balance systems before and during your treatment. This will help you and your treatment team determine whether to stop or the change your prescription before your hearing is damaged.

Finding with Relief With Hearing Aids

If the drugs cannot be stopped or changed, we will work with your physician to help you manage the effects of the hearing loss that results. Relief from tinnitus is possible with our help. Due to the personal and unique nature of your tinnitus, proper evaluation and specialized treatment is necessary. Although there isn’t a single cure for tinnitus, we are experienced at providing individual solutions on a case-by-case basis.

According to a study featured in The Hearing Review, roughly 60% of tinnitus patients experienced at least some relief when wearing hearing aids; roughly 22% of patients found significant relief.

Hearing aids help by masking the sounds of tinnitus and increasing the volume of outside noise, stimulating soft background sounds and improving communication, so you feel more connected to friends, family, and your world.

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