Drug Causes of Tinnitus

Tinnitus is a condition that causes a ringing, buzzing, or other sounds in the ears. It can be caused by a variety of factors, including exposure to loud noises, ear infections, and certain medications. In this essay, we will explore the impact of drugs on tinnitus and how it can be managed and prevented.

Tinnitus, a ringing or buzzing sound in the ears, affects millions of people worldwide. While it can be caused by various factors, including exposure to loud noises or ear infections, certain drugs have also been found to be potential causes of tinnitus. In this article, we will explore the common prescription and over-the-counter drugs that may lead to tinnitus and how to manage this condition.

Understanding Tinnitus

Before diving into the drug causes of tinnitus, it is essential to understand tinnitus itself. Tinnitus is a symptom of an underlying condition, and it can vary from person to person. Some people experience tinnitus as a mild ringing, while others may experience it as a debilitating noise that disrupts their daily life.

Tinnitus can be temporary, lasting a few hours or days, or chronic, lasting for months or years. The severity of tinnitus can also vary, and it can be intermittent or constant.

Types of Tinnitus

There are two primary types of tinnitus: subjective and objective. Subjective tinnitus is the most common type and is caused by damage to the inner ear or auditory nerve. Objective tinnitus, on the other hand, is caused by a physical sound that can be detected by a doctor.

Medications That Can Cause Tinnitus

Certain medications can cause or worsen tinnitus symptoms. If you are experiencing tinnitus, it is essential to speak with your doctor about any medications you are taking to determine if they may be the cause of your symptoms.

Key takeaways:
– Tinnitus is a symptom of an underlying condition that can cause ringing, buzzing, or other sounds in the ears.
– Certain medications, known as ototoxic drugs, can cause or worsen tinnitus symptoms, and it’s important to speak with a doctor if experiencing tinnitus to determine if medication is the cause.
– There are lifestyle changes, therapies, and supplements that can be used to manage and prevent tinnitus symptoms, including avoiding loud noise exposure, using sound therapy, and taking supplements like zinc and ginkgo biloba.

Ototoxic Drugs

Ototoxic drugs are medications that can damage the inner ear and cause hearing loss or tinnitus. Some common ototoxic drugs include:

  • Antibiotics such as gentamicin, vancomycin, and erythromycin
  • Chemotherapy drugs such as cisplatin and carboplatin
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen
  • Loop diuretics such as furosemide and bumetanide

Other Medications

Other medications that can cause tinnitus include:

  • Antidepressants such as amitriptyline, nortriptyline, and sertraline
  • Antipsychotics such as haloperidol and chlorpromazine
  • Anti-anxiety medications such as lorazepam and alprazolam
  • Antimalarial drugs such as quinine and chloroquine

Managing and Preventing Tinnitus

If you are experiencing tinnitus, there are several strategies you can use to manage and prevent your symptoms.

Avoiding Ototoxic Drugs

The first step in managing and preventing tinnitus caused by medication is to avoid ototoxic drugs. If you are taking a medication that is known to cause tinnitus, speak with your doctor to determine if there is an alternative medication that you can take.

Lifestyle Changes

In addition to avoiding ototoxic drugs, there are several lifestyle changes you can make to manage and prevent tinnitus symptoms. These include:

  • Protecting your ears from loud noises by wearing earplugs or earmuffs
  • Limiting your exposure to loud music and other sources of noise pollution
  • Managing stress and anxiety through relaxation techniques such as meditation and yoga
  • Getting regular exercise to improve circulation and reduce stress
  • Avoiding caffeine and alcohol, which can worsen tinnitus symptoms

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is a form of therapy that can help manage tinnitus symptoms. CBT helps individuals change their thoughts and behaviors related to tinnitus, which can help reduce the emotional impact of the condition.

Sound Therapy

Sound therapy involves using external sounds to mask or distract from tinnitus sounds. Some common sound therapy techniques include:

  • Using a white noise machine or fan to create background noise
  • Listening to music or nature sounds to distract from tinnitus sounds
  • Using hearing aids or cochlear implants to improve hearing and reduce tinnitus symptoms


Some supplements have been shown to help reduce tinnitus symptoms. These include:

  • Zinc supplements, which can help reduce hearing loss and tinnitus symptoms
  • Ginkgo biloba, which can improve blood flow to the inner ear and reduce tinnitus symptoms
  • Magnesium supplements, which can help reduce hearing loss and tinnitus symptoms

If you are considering taking a supplement to help manage your tinnitus symptoms, speak with your doctor first to determine if it is safe for you to take.

FAQs: Drug Causes of Tinnitus

What drugs can cause tinnitus?

There are several drugs that have been linked to tinnitus, including some antibiotics (e.g. gentamicin, vancomycin), anti-inflammatory drugs (e.g. ibuprofen, aspirin), diuretics (e.g. furosemide), chemotherapy drugs (e.g. cisplatin), and some antidepressants (e.g. amitriptyline).

How do drugs cause tinnitus?

Drugs can cause tinnitus in several ways. Some drugs can damage the inner ear by causing the death of hair cells, which are cells responsible for transferring sound vibrations to the brain. Other drugs can affect the way the brain processes sound signals, resulting in the perception of ringing or buzzing in the ears. Additionally, some drugs can cause changes in blood flow, which can affect the chemical balance in the inner ear and lead to tinnitus.

How long does it take for drug-induced tinnitus to go away?

The duration of drug-induced tinnitus can vary depending on the type of drug, the dose, and the individual’s response to the drug. In some cases, tinnitus may disappear after discontinuing the use of the drug, while in other cases, it may persist for months or even years. There is currently no known cure for tinnitus, but there are treatments available that can help manage the symptoms.

Can tinnitus caused by drugs be prevented?

To reduce the risk of drug-induced tinnitus, it is important to carefully follow the recommended dosage and duration of use for prescription drugs. Over-the-counter drugs such as aspirin and ibuprofen should be used sparingly and only as directed. It may be helpful to discuss the potential risk of tinnitus with your healthcare provider before starting a new medication, especially if you have a history of tinnitus or hearing loss.

What should I do if I develop tinnitus while taking a medication?

If you experience tinnitus while taking a medication, it is important to talk to your healthcare provider as soon as possible. They may recommend reducing the dose of the drug, switching to a different medication, or discontinuing the drug altogether. Your healthcare provider may also refer you to an audiologist or ENT specialist for further evaluation and treatment.