tinnitus

Tens of millions of people complain that their ears are ringing (tinnitus). It is a devastating condition that drives many people to distraction. Some even consider suicide because the constant hissing, buzzing, chirping, whooshing, humming, squeaking or roaring can be unbearable. Some people complain of constant static in their ears, like a radio station that has been badly tuned.

However it is described, tinnitus can interfere with hearing and enjoyment of life. It can be hard to fall asleep if you continually have to put up with sounds of chirping crickets, an electronic whine or rushing water. Few people realize that their ears may be “ringing” because of common medications. One reader shared this story:

Q. After knee replacement surgery, my doctor told me to take three or four ibuprofen tablets every four hours for pain. It did not help the pain much, but I developed severe ringing in my ears. After a few years with no ibuprofen, the ringing has almost stopped.

A. NSAID pain relievers such as diclofenac (Voltaren), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, etc.), meloxicam (Mobic) and naproxen (Aleve, Naprosyn) can all affect hearing or trigger tinnitus (ringing in the ears).

The Nurses’ Health Study queried nearly 56,000 women about their use of pain relievers over two decades (American Journal of Epidemiology, Jan. 1, 2017).  Those who took acetaminophen or an NSAID at least twice a week for more than a year were about 10 percent more likely to have hearing loss.

Stories from Readers:

Unless your ears are ringing you cannot truly appreciate what victims of this condition must deal with. Here are some reports from readers:

Val shares this story:

“I have had tinnitus now for 5 year. I struggle everyday with it and find I get very stressed and frustrated with it. For me It’s a mixture of sound; a very high pitched sound combined with a very loud but dull hum. It disturbs my hearing and I must concentrate so much if more than one person is speaking.

“When I lay down I can only describe what it is like as something moving inside my head with a pulsating sound to go with it. I don’t sleep well and white noise doesn’t work for me. My biggest issue is trying to have a doctor understand and empathize.

“I wish I could record and play for others how difficult it can be. Thank you for letting me know I am not alone.”

Sean in New Jersey asks a hard question:

“I have tinnitus due to Seroquel withdrawal. It’s a nightmare. Has anyone who has had this happen actually ever had it go away?”

Several people responded to Sean’s question. James noted that he was into 9 months of Seroquel withdrawal syndrome with tinnitus.  Craig noted that his ears are ringing after he came off Seroquel.

Linda in Colorado had problems with aspirin:

“I switched from aspirin to ibuprofen because aspirin caused temporary ringing in my ears after taking it. Now after three years of taking ibuprofen (every day), I feel like I have permanent pressure in my ears and definitely have hearing loss. I also suffer from dizziness most days and sometimes vertigo. I will stop ibuprofen after reading that NSAIDs can also cause hearing loss. Is there anything to counteract the ear pressure and dizziness?”

Linda, we encourage you to see an ear, nose and throat specialist to rule out anything serious. Perhaps without the ibuprofen on board the pressure will gradually dissipate.

What Else Can You Do For Pain?

If NSAIDs can cause tinnitus for some people and acetaminophen can also affect hearing, what else can people do for pain? We have completely revised and expanded our Guide to Alternatives for Arthritis with lots of nondrug options. We doubt that curcumin, tart cherry juice, Knox Gelatin, Certo and grape juice, gin-soaked raisins or ginger will trigger tinnitus. The 53-page guide is only available in electronic form. This allows you to see the scientific articles supporting nondrug approaches for arthritis in this new guide.

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  1. claudia
    Reply

    Low dose Seroquel for sleep I believe caused my pulsating tinnitus in left ear- I noticied this after being on medication for 9 months- nothing affects it- no foods or drink make it go away- exercise and blood pressure will make it worse. Cant get off Seroquel or I wont sleep- so I am in a no win situation. Anyone else have ear ringing from low dose Seroquel?

  2. claudia
    USA
    Reply

    Doctor put me on low dose Seroquel because after reaching this age ( 67) I couldnt sleep through the night without waking up every hour. Seroquel works fine as it quiets your brain so you can sleep pretty well. After being on the drug for 6 months I noticed pulsating tinnitus in my left ear that gets worse if your blood pressure increases or you get anxious.- I have tried everything from alcohol to aspartame to see if it has any effect – but nothing helps. Cant get off Seroquel because I will not sleep- I never subjected my ears to loud music my whole life and this seem to happen with the medication- because it does affect your brain. So I am in a no win situation.

  3. Aide H
    Texas
    Reply

    My eight year old has been dealing with this for a week now. What I have done for him I hope will offer relief to the rest of you. The treatment is natural, simple, and for some works quickly. Brew a tea made of sesame seeds.

    Yes, the packs you get from a convenient store work well. Purchase the salted version….. This is what works for me. It is a very affordable treatment that might just work for you as well. Good luck and great health.

  4. Janice
    27215
    Reply

    Can there be other causes for it? I have taken some of those things but never on a regular basis. I don’t know when mine started but it has been happening for years. More stories about possible other causes would be welcomed. Thanks Janice

  5. Judy
    Winston Salem NC
    Reply

    Oh, I can commiserate with those suffering from tinnitus because I have had it for almost ten years. I used to be a person who loved silence. Now, I always have some other noise in the background, a podcast, tv program, radio. Mostly I can ignore it but, when I stop and listen, it is there, loud and clear. Sometimes it is quite loud. I went to the ENT and they found only one place where my hearing was compromised and they said they thought my brain was trying to “make up” for that tone that I could no longer hear.

    One thing that has helped me is using an iPod and listening to podcasts when I am driving (my cd player no longer works). Sometimes the news radio is just more than I can handle. And, I always listen to something at night, usually on my iPhone — you could use your earphones if you sleep with a partner. I listen to guided meditations – my favorites are from the Meditation Society for Australia. I also have some relaxation / sleep recordings from Andrew Johnson, Glenn Harrold and Adam Eason. There are lots you can find without having to pay a fee — and test them first for sure because I hate some of the voices!! LOL I also have found some people on YouTube — The Honest Guys and Jonathan Stephanson — these have really, really helped me as they help negate the ringing but not with a story or something that would keep me alert — these are meant to help you relax and fall asleep. Hope that helps someone — sure helped me!!

  6. Lynn
    Seattle
    Reply

    I’ve had ringing in the ears for over 40 years. It started out low but as the years went by and my hearing loss increased the ringing would get louder. In 2003 I was having a difficult time. Even though I’ve used a sound machine and then a masker (left ear), trying to sleep in a quiet house with the loudest sound being in my head was unbearable. I was already taking Alfalfa to help with salt intake causing fluid retention I then added Lecithin (non-gmo) which supports brain and nerve function. I had to take it for about a month before I noticed any change but it did help me. I felt better and could finally get to sleep without the assist of OTC sleeping aids. I still take both Alfalfa and Lecithin every day. I hope this was helpful to someone.

    • HelenM
      Modesto
      Reply

      Lynn, thank you! I already have lymphedema in my right leg, knee replacement surgery 2013; but I did not know that tinnitus could be from edema, nor that alfalfa would help with the fluid. I have had lymphedema massage in the past and it took off over 40#; but it always comes back on. Several times now; and, as I am too heavy anyway, it breaks my heart and makes me feel, why diet? Well, there is diabetes. So, how much? I know alfalfa comes in pills, isn’t lecithin a powder? I will take whatever the bottle says is a standard dose and go from there, if necessary. Thanks again.

      • Lynn
        Seattle
        Reply

        Hi HelenM, I noticed the volume of the ringing would increase when I ate salty foods. An acquaintance mentioned to me that salt retains fluid and recommended Alfalfa, a natural diuretic. I also stopped salting my food unless the food is so bland it is without flavor then I use it sparingly. I also stay away from aspirin as that may increase the volume of the ringing as well. I’m not sure why I started out on these dosages but I take 1000 mg of Alfalfa Leaf 2 tablets and 1200 mg of the Lecithin 2-3 softgels. -Lynn

  7. Neila
    Reply

    I had knee surgery and my doctor advised me to use Advil for pain, 3X day. I only took it once a day and it helped my pain for a while until I had other problems with the other knee. Then I had to have a shoulder replaced and when I went in for the pre-op, they found caries in my urine from my kidneys and was advised to stop taking and to not take it ever again.

    Then I found that I was having trouble hearing and I had severe ringing in my ears. I now use hearing aids and I still have ringing in my ears, but not nearly as bad. When I have my aids in, I don’t have as loud ringing as without them, but I still hear it. Now I use mostly nothing for pain and just deal with it. However, I have found that Lidocane patches help somewhat with my pain.

  8. Darlene
    Reply

    What about Benicar and tinnitus? Why is it better sometimes than others? Why is no one finding a way to stop it?

  9. M.J.
    Baltimore
    Reply

    I was prescribed Aleve for a foot fracture several years ago. After a day or two on Aleve my ears started ringing when it was quiet. It sounded like machinery and I actually hobbled out of bed to see if something had been left on somewhere in the house. I did a little reading the next day and immediately stopped the Aleve. While the tinnitus lessened as time went on, it didn’t stop for months. Fortunately it was only at night. I haven’t had a similar reaction on ibuprofen or Tylenol.

  10. Rick
    Reply

    Before you try NSAIDs for your pain make sure you are properly hydrated, electrolytes and all!

  11. cathy
    WI
    Reply

    I’ve had ringing in my ears for over 15 years. I have tried everything I can find to get rid of it. I’ve not found any relief as of yet. In the last year I got a new ENT Dr. He said that it is caused by something altered in the brain, so don’t ever expect to be healed.
    He had to perform a sinus surgery on me in November. I prayed it would take away the ringing. The surgery itself didn’t but 10 days after the surgery I flew to my sister’s. When I landed on the way there the cabin pressure popped my ears and the ringing quit. For 15 minutes it was gone. I loved it. I got a glimpse of what I’m missing. I want that again. But after 15 minutes it came back. Hasn’t left yet. So disappointed. Any suggestions?

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