tinnitus, help for tinnitus

Tinnitus, an annoying and often constant or near-constant sound that nobody else can hear, drives many sufferers crazy. An estimated 30 million people cope with this debilitating and invisible condition. Sometimes damage to the eardrum from excessive noise is the apparent cause of tinnitus. For other individuals, the culprit is prescription medication. Even aspirin and quinine are known to induce tinnitus in some people.

Citalopram (Celexa) and Tinnitus:

Q. I developed tinnitus about 1 year ago. I do not have any type of hearing loss which would have contributed to my ringing in the ears. The only lifestyle event which I can attribute to my tinnitus is the drug citalopram (Celexa), which my doctor prescribed to me for depression.

Since tinnitus is now believed to be in the brain, it would make sense that this drug would be the common denominator. My tinnitus is 24/7. I have been very disappointed with ENT’s [ear nose & throat doctors] and their concern with my tinnitus. I actually received better treatment and information from my neurologist than from my ENT.

My question: has there been a link to drugs, such as citalopram, which have contributed to tinnitus? Also, I have now resorted to eastern medicine, such as acupuncture. Has anyone had positive results?
I am totally desperate for help!

A. This was the first we heard of a link between the antidepressant citalopram (Celexa) and ringing in the ears (tinnitus). We went to the medical literature and could find very little linking antidepressant medications like citalopram and ringing in the ears. In fact, doctors have actually tried treating tinnitus with such medications.

We didn’t give up, though. We did a little more searching and found this side effect buried in the official prescribing information. It was listed as “infrequent.”

So, the drug company lists tinnitus as an uncommon side effect of citalopram. And the medical literature is not very helpful in determining how rare this complication is. You are not the only person to suffer. Here is another report:


I developed screaming high-pitched tinnitus after I had been taking escitalopram (Lexapro) for 10 days. I was given samples by a nurse practitioner (NP) without any drug information or leaflet that the pharmacy usually provides.

I was not taking any other meds at the time. Asked my NP if Lexapro was causing the tinnitus & her reply was “No, she had no other patients that had complained of this side effect.” She told me to keep taking the drug.

I did and the tinnitus increased in volume & eventually was in both ears. I had to become my own advocate and found out from a pharmacist that Lexapro can cause severe, persistent ringing in the ears. I stopped taking Lexapro 19 months ago and I have been suffering with this condition ever since. I tried acupuncture & herbal therapy but it did not help.


Thank you for your post; your situation is exactly like mine. I was given citalopram by my doctor, and then I experienced the exact same results. I feel my tinnitus was caused by this drug. I have also tried acupuncture and other supplements which I have researched. My concern is that doctors and makers of citalopram should be aware of this side effect and look for the root cause.

My ENT dismissed this when I first brought up the relationship between the drug and tinnitus. I would really like to know who we could reach out to and have this link followed up.


It is hard for The People’s Pharmacy to determine if tinnitus is incredibly rare…or a side effect that has been overlooked by the medical community, the drug companies and the FDA. Here is one complication of such drugs that can no longer be ignored:

Citalopram Withdrawal:

I was on citalopram for 10 weeks and came off them cold turkey with some terrible withdrawal symptoms. I am still experiencing some brain shivers and funny sensations, although they are becoming further apart. They are still distressing and leave me exhausted.

Has anyone else had withdrawal symptoms for this period of time, and how long they can last?


The People’s Pharmacy has become a community of people who have also experienced difficult withdrawal symptoms after stopping an antidepressant medication like citalopram or sertraline. We have written about this issue in greater detail here and here.

There is one other side effect associated with many antidepressants that was ignored for years. Now it is recognized as a common complaint, but initially it was dismissed by many prescribers.

Escitalopram (Lexapro) and Sex:

I was on Lexapro (escitalopram) in my early 20s. It worked well but killed my sex drive. Job/life changes and my insurance didn’t cover Lexapro, so I was put on citalopram. It never really helped but it kept me stable and I would notice a change if I missed a dose but still had feelings of sadness and depression.

Now I’m on generic Zoloft (sertraline) because my new insurance doesn’t cover Lexapro. At first, it was great, but now the usual side effects have begun.


ESCITALOPRAM (LEXAPRO) SIDE EFFECTS

  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Indigestion
  • Decreased appetite
  • Stomach pain
  • Dry mouth
  • Sweating
  • Insomnia
  • Fatigue/Tiredness/lethargy
  • Dizziness
  • Lowered libido
  • Ejaculation difficulties
  • Impotence
  • Lack of orgasm
  • Tinnitus (rare)

CITALOPRAM (CELEXA) SIDE EFFECTS

  • Dry mouth
  • Sweating
  • Tremor
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Indigestion
  • Fatigue/tiredness/lethargy
  • Insomnia
  • Anxiety/nervousness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Lowered libido
  • Runny nose/cold or flu-like symptoms
  • Ejaculation difficulties
  • Impotence
  • Lack of orgasm
  • Tinnitus (rare)

You can learn about the top screw-ups that are made in treating depression in our book, Top Screwups Doctors Make and How to Avoid Them. You can also learn more about other options for treating depression in our guide Dealing With Depression.

Revised 12/15/2016

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  1. Andreia
    Reply

    Hello everybody,

    Can anyone tell me if the tinnitus lessened or went away with time? Or is it permanent?
    Best wishes

  2. PeterTan
    Reply

    I have tinnitus since I took the first dose of Citalopram. I stopped the medication after 7 days. The tinnitus is loud 24/7 and persistent. It has been 7 years now and I have learned to live with it. All signs of depression were long gone but tinnitus never.

  3. Bill
    NY
    Reply

    Started taking Escitalopram 5mg on Thursday as given by doctor for stress and trouble sleeping. Three or four days into drug woke up with ringing in ears which went away after about 1 hour. On Friday 1 week in woke up with ringing in ears which has not gone away as of Sunday. Stopped taking drug that Friday and pray ringing goes away. Have more stress now than ever before. Waiting till Monday to go back to doctors office.

    • Tom
      Wisconsin
      Reply

      Please follow up and tell us …is the ringing still there .
      I have the same problem ..
      Need hope ..

  4. Ann
    Alabama
    Reply

    I began taking Lexapro about 13-14 years ago. Was later switched to citalopram. Really had no trouble except low libido. I decided to stop for probably the 3rd time (worried about Alzheimer’s and wanting to get off all men’s) and weaned off from May-July 2016. I had read that I may experience ear ringing and insomnia but thought, not me. Well, the insomnia is horrible and the ringing is nearly unbearable. Saw an ENT and I do have a hearing loss, but he thinks the ringing was there, just masked by the antidepressant. I do not believe that to be the case. I believe the antidepressant has changed my brain and I honestly do not know what to do about the noise. It was very difficult to get off the citalopram and I hate to start again but am even more afraid that the noise will continue even if I try taking it again. At a loss as to what to do. Very depressing!!!

  5. Joann
    NY
    Reply

    I have been searching the internet to see if anyone found that Lexapro ACTUALLY stopped the ringing in my ears and have not found anything other then it CAUSES the problem. I am totally confused by this but I am 100% positive that the Lexapro stops the ringing. I have had this problem for 5 years the screeching is in both ears and is very severe. I always feel my head is in a state of confusion from the non stop noise. I was prescribed Lexapro for depression and never thought it would actually help the screeching but by the first day of taking the Lexapro the screeching stops. I go off and on the Lexapro so I am aware that it is the Lexapro that helps my ears. Does anyone else find this to be true?

    • Meghan
      Colorado
      Reply

      Lexapro is ototoxic. Your ears will be damaged forever. I lost my job because of it and I cannot even find another job or learn anything because the noise is so loud. My tinnitus sounds like a school bell ringing.

      • Andreia
        Reply

        Did your tinnitus go away with time?

  6. Debbie
    CA
    Reply

    I started Escitalopram about 4 months ago. My ringing in my ears started about 4 months ago. Last 3 weeks the ringing has gotten so extremely loud I feel like I am going crazy. I didn’t put the 2 together until 4 days ago.

    I instantly stopped the 10mg Escitalopram. I don’t feel I should be off of it for my depression but the ringing is FAR FAR FAR worse. Now I am terrified it won’t go away as I have read everyones comments. I do have dizziness with it when the ringing is soooo loud it is louder than people talking or the TV. :(

    • Rob
      NY
      Reply

      Hi Debbie,
      Exactly the same thing has happened to me. Did your ringing ever stop? I have had it for nearly a year now with no sign of it going away.

      • Andreia
        Reply

        Hi, did your tinnitus go away with time? Best wishes

  7. Carol
    Houston, TX
    Reply

    I, too, experienced the Lexapro connection with tinnitus which I have had for years as I have taken Lexapro for years. I was consulting with my GP recently and he asked me how often I take the Lexapro. Since he told me that Lexapro does not work if taken every other day I resumed taking it daily. Both of my ears have been ringing off the walls ever since. I had previously associated the tinnitus with my use of Ambien which, I think, is also connected with tinnitus.

  8. Wm
    Reply

    Have had Tinnitus for years. I take none of the above drugs. Occasionally the Tinnitus stops momentarily with the sound of SILENCE. Only last for a few seconds.

  9. Peter G
    Missouri
    Reply

    I am 76years old, and developed an occasional tinnitus a couple of years back. I am not on any of the drugs that have been mentioned here, and my tinnitus is like a background hissing at a low volume. What causes tinnitus like this and what could I do to stop it?

  10. Douglas C
    NC
    Reply

    I have had tinnitus for many years. I lost hearing in my left ear, I was told by my ENT doctor it was as a result of the brain compensating for the hearing loss. I had a stapedectomy on that ear, my doctor assured me the tinnitus would subside after the surgery. I had the surgery and I did regain hearing but the tinnitus remains. I also have MS and take a number of different medications, I often wonder if one or more of these medications contribute to the tinnitus.

  11. susan
    vancouver
    Reply

    I was prescribed 10 mg of lexapro by my psychiatrist and was so reluctant to take any anti depressant but felt i really had no choice as living with the depression was becoming unbearable. I asked the Dr about side effects and there was certainly no mention of tinnitus. On day one I took only 2.5 mg trying to start slow on the lexapro..day 2 i took 2.5 mg, day 3 i took 5 mg and by day 4 I had a hissing sound in my right ear. I will not take this poison ever again, it is bad enough to deal with depression then to have tinnitus on top of that. Had i not googled any connection between antidepressants and tinnitus, I would have remained in the dark as the so called professionals seem to have no clue or do not disclose ALL the possible side effects. I have read countless comments of people who are now dealing with this issue and feel for every single one of them.

  12. Theresa
    Reply

    I take 5 mg escitalopram and ear ringing high pitched intense stared within 10 days.

    • Alan
      NH
      Reply

      If I had to do it all over again, I would have asked my doctor to take me off Escitalopram the first time I experienced ringing.

      I still have a slight ring in my left ear that I believe was caused by Escitalopram. I no longer take the medication, but the ringing started when we increased the dose of Escitalopram.

      So, the ringing didn’t go away when we decreased the dose. And it didn’t go away when we discontinued the medication a couple of years ago.

  13. Ron
    alberta
    Reply

    I also have ringing 24/7 in my ears . I have been taking Citalopram (celexa) for 6 months with that being the only side effect.

  14. theresa
    south west
    Reply

    Just read threads. I was prescribed citalopram in 2006 and thought it had an effect on my tinnitus but I was under so much severe stress did not make connection. Weaned myself off it in 2009.

    Under similar stress levels again in 2016. Within a week of taking citalopram the noise in my ears was unbearable even on 10 mg dose. I think this symptom needs taking seriously that this drug has the potential to cause serious damaging ever lasting tinnitus.

    • Alan
      NH
      Reply

      Update: I still have the same faint ring in one ear and some hearing loss in the upper range (confirmed by an “official” audiological/hearing test. The audiologist doubted the connection to the Lexapro side effect. I know better. The Ear, Nose, and Throat doctor doubted the connection, as well. But they had no other explanation. To remind folks, my tinnitus started when my dose was upped. Unfortunately, it didn’t go away even though we backed off within a few days.

      I count myself lucky, though. I only notice the ringing and low hiss when I’m in a very quiet room or before bed. It doesn’t disrupt my normal sleep routine. My best to you all and thanks for posting.

  15. Darlene Blume
    Reply

    This is Darlene again, I forgot to add one more symptom I was having. I have laryangospasms, and asthma. I noticed while on the Lexapro I started getting out of breath really bad to where I had to stop my daily walks. I can now walk again. I do have side effects from the Lexapro but feel better that I’ve stopped taking it. I won’t take it again.

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