Tinnitus is a common symptom of hearing loss that causes the perception of ringing in the ears. The different causes, types, or symptoms of tinnitus may warrant differing forms of treatment. If you think you have tinnitus, seek a diagnosis by a hearing professional including an Ear, Nose and Throat doctor who can help you assess your problem and find proper treatment.
For certain types of tinnitus, medication may be a suitable treatment. In this article we’ll cover a few of the most prevalent medications used to treat tinnitus.
Antidepressants for Tinnitus
As of today, there are no FDA-approved drugs specifically designed to treat or cure tinnitus. That said, there are some medications that have been studied clinically and been used in some cases for patients suffering from tinnitus.
In some clinical studies such as this one by the National Institute of Health, there was inconclusive evidence that tricyclic antidepressants were an effective treatment for tinnitus. The 2005 study did indicate that there were some positive effects in one group that received a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), which “merits further investigation”.
Another piece of research by Robert A Dobie, however, found that in patients with severe tinnitus that may be caused by depression or other disorders, tricyclic antidepressants were found to reduce complaints of tinnitus in comparison with the placebo group. Thus, for most cases of tinnitus, antidepressants may not be an effective treatment, but in certain cases they may help with symptoms.
Unfortunately, side effects of these medications may be harsh, affecting quality of life as much or more as the normal symptoms of tinnitus.
According to the American Tinnitus Association, a few common antidepressants used to treat tinnitus include:
- Clomipramine (Anafranil)
- Desipramine (Norpramin)
- Imipramine (Tofranil)
- Nortriptyline (Pamelor)
- Protriptyline (Vivactil)
Anti-Anxiety Medications for Tinnitus
Anti-anxiety medications have been used to help with the effects of tinnitus, but have not been shown to treat tinnitus itself. According to the American Tinnitus Association, research has shown “very limited efficacy in patients without depression, anxiety or obsessive compulsive disorder”.
This implies that similarly to tricyclic antidepressants, these medications are more impactful for those with tinnitus caused by mental or depressive disorders.
Anti-anxiety medications used for tinnitus are not without their slate of side effects, and can be habit-forming according to the Mayo Clinic.
According to the American Tinnitus Association, anti-anxiety medications that may be used to treat tinnitus include:
- Alprazolam (Xanax)
- Clonazepam (Klonopin)
- Diazepam (Valium)
- Lorazepam (Ativan)
The Bottom Line
There is no FDA-approved drug meant to treat tinnitus, but there may be a few medications that can help with the symptoms/effects of tinnitus. Medications for tinnitus have generally been used more to help people with tinnitus caused by a mental or depressive disorder.
If you think you have tinnitus, you should consult an Ear, Nose and Throat doctor and possibly an audiologist to get diagnosed. For further information, read our article on Tinnitus Treatments.