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Ringing In The Ears: Is It A Drug Side Effect?

MAYO CLINIC NEWS NETWORK – Tinnitus is the perception of noise or ringing in the ears. A common problem, tinnitus affects about 15% to 20% of people.

Tinnitus isn’t a condition itself — it’s a symptom of an underlying condition, such as age-related hearing loss, ear injury or a circulatory system disorder.

Tinnitus also can be caused by a number of medications, including aspirin, anti-inflammatories, some antibiotics, and, less commonly, some antidepressants.

If your antidepressant is the cause of your tinnitus, switching to another medication may solve the problem, but don’t quit taking your medication without medical guidance.

Learn more about antidepressants and tinnitus from Dr. Daniel Hall-Flavin, a Mayo Clinic psychiatrist.

Can antidepressants cause ringing in the ears (tinnitus)? If so, what can I do about it?

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Answer From Daniel K. Hall-Flavin, M.D.

Ringing in the ears (tinnitus) can be caused by a number of medications, including some antidepressants. Not all antidepressants cause tinnitus.

If your antidepressant is the cause of your tinnitus, switching to another medication may solve the problem, but don’t quit taking your medication without medical guidance.

Antidepressants are a less common cause of tinnitus than are other types of medications — such as aspirin, anti-inflammatories or some antibiotics — or underlying health conditions.

Causes of tinnitus include prolonged exposure to noise, blood vessel disorders, diabetes, allergies and other medical, neurological or mental health problems.

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While caffeine has traditionally been thought to be associated with tinnitus, some research has found higher amounts of caffeine to be associated with a lower risk of tinnitus in some people. Tinnitus also can be caused by age-related hearing loss or a buildup of wax in the ear.

You’ll need to work with your doctor to determine whether your antidepressant or something else is causing your tinnitus. Your symptoms may go away when the underlying cause is treated.

If the underlying cause isn’t clear — or treatment doesn’t help — you may benefit from a device similar to a hearing aid that may help mask the ringing. A change in medication, counseling or certain relaxation techniques also may help you cope with tinnitus.

Dr. Daniel Hall-Flavin, board certified in general psychiatry and addiction psychiatry, is a St. Louis native looking to the Internet as a way to help people improve their health and be more active participants in their own health care by learning from Mayo Clinic’s experts.

 

 

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