Learn About Tinnitus

If you’ve ever had tinnitus, then you know just how difficult life can be.  Constant merciless ringing in the ears that lasts for days, months or years is enough to drive anybody insane. To treat tinnitus, first you have to know how you got it in the first place.  Symptom Checker from Health Line has put together a resource of 15 possible causes of chronic tinnitus, including head trauma, ear infections, and nerve damage.

Tinnitus is usually neurological- it happens from nerve damage to the cells of the inner ears (cochlea.) But like other ailments, there are several possible explanations for tinnitus.

What are the symptoms of tinnitus?

Basically, tinnitus is a constant noise that you hear in your head- nobody else can hear it. Tinnitus sounds differ for each individual. Variances include volume, pitch, severity, and location.

Tinnitus can occur in one ear constantly, or it can switch from one ear to the next. Many hear ringing or whistling sounds in both ears at the same time.

People often describe their tinnitus using the following adjectives:

  • Ringing
  • Whistling
  • Buzzing
  • Whooshing
  • Buzzing
  • Chirping
  • Static
  • Hissing

Causes of tinnitus

Vestibular disorders are some of the most common causes of tinnitus. Some other reasons for tinnitus may require immediate emergency care, so please visit a doctor if tinnitus becomes a constant problem.

Sometimes, tinnitus can be helped easily by addressing physical or psychological conditions that trigger tinnitus, such as high blood pressure, anxiety, or insomnia.

  • Meniere’s Disease (Disorder)
  • Hypertension
  • Excess earwax
  • Concussion
  • Head injury
  • Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders
  • Noise-induced hearing loss
  • Labyrinthitis
  • Bell’s palsy
  • Burst eardrum
  • Insertion of foreign object
  • Preeclampsia
  • Neurofibromatosis (NF)
  • Acoustic neuromas (benign tumor)
  • Traumatic brain injury (TBI)

 Image by aopsan

Millions of people suffer from tinnitus to the point of distraction. Constant ear ringing, dizziness, headaches, and head pressure make it difficult to concentrate or function normally. Now, scientists believe they can relieve tinnitus symptoms through a nerve stimulation treatment already approved for epilepsy.

To Help Tinnitus, Stimulate the Nerves, Say Scientists
Tinnitus is a neurological condition, so it’s no surprise that scientists from the University of Texas at Dallas’ School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences are testing the effects of vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) and auditory tones on people experiencing severe tinnitus- persistent ear ringing, buzzing sounds, headaches, vertigo, and ear pressure.

Already approved by the FDA for treating depression and epilepsy, scientists are trying to determine if VNS-tone therapy can also be used safely for sufferers of chronic tinnitus.

Vagus nerve stimulation works by emitting mild electrical currents through the vagus nerve, eliciting a response from the brain. By pairing VNS with auditory sounds, doctors hope to effectively reduce tinnitus noises.

“VNS-tone therapy was expected to be safe because it requires less than 1 percent of the VNS approved by the FDA for the treatment of intractable epilepsy and depression,” says co-author Dr. Sven Vanneste. “There were no significant adverse events in our study.”

For the study, 10 tinnitus patients accepted electrode implants on the vagus nerve.
All study participants had suffered from constant tinnitus for at least one year, and have not benefited from previous attempts to reduce tinnitus.
Participants received 2 ½ hours of tinnitus therapy every day for 20 days.
Scientists used a remote device to apply mild electrical pulses.
Half of all tinnitus sufferers noted significant improvement following the 20-day therapy, and three in particular reported a 44% reduction in tinnitus-related stress or handicap.
Four patients reported that tinnitus noise decreased by 26 decibels.
Scientists believe that certain drugs may interfere with VNS-tone therapy for tinnitus.

The results are promising; even more than two months after the trial, four out of ten tinnitus patients continued to enjoy a reduction in tinnitus symptoms, say scientists.

Please tell us

Would you consider getting nerve stimulation to end tinnitus ear ringing? Have you tried using natural supplements to improve nerve cell health?

Ginkgo biloba and tinnitus have been the focus of many studies on hearing loss and age-related dementia. Though we have no “miracle cure” for tinnitus, ginkgo biloba is noted by researchers as having amazingly beneficial properties hat help to sustain healthy blood circulation, a key element in preventing tinnitus triggers.

Ginkgo Biloba and Tinnitus: It’s All About Blood

The ginkgo biloba-tinnitus link

Sometimes, tinnitus is caused when there is a reduction of blood flow…and oxygen to the brain and the delicate nerve cells of your inner ears. Hypertension, for example, is one common cause of tinnitus which can be helped by maintaining healthy blood vessels. And as it happens, ginkgo biloba is noted for its efficacy in dilating the blood vessels and maintaining normal blood texture and consistency.

Ginkgo biloba contains flavonoids and terpenoids, potent antioxidants that help to boost oxygen in the brain, prevent blood clotting, and enhance neurological functioning in the inner ears. For minimizing the effects of tinnitus, it is crucial to regulate healthy blood flow to your brain, in order to prevent oxygen deficiency and damage to your nerve cells, all of which contribute to tinnitus.

Studies on ginkgo biloba for tinnitus

In a study on the effects of ginkgo biloba on cerebral blood flow, scientists noted a significant increase in blood flow to the brain with ginkgo biloba extracts, leading researchers to believe that the ginkgo biloba herb may also be helpful for patients of chronic tinnitus when poor circulation is an issue.

Many other studies have been conducted on the beneficial properties of ginkgo biloba with tinnitus that have yielded promising results.

Ginkgo biloba is one of the oldest and most popular herbs in the US and Europe, exceeding other natural supplements in sales.

In addition to tinnitus, ginkgo biloba is also used to sustain normal functioning in people with memory loss, clogged arteries, and acute hemorrhoids.

 Image courtesy of cooldesign/freedigitalphotos

Many tinnitus patients wonder if their symptoms are genetic-based. To find out how to treat tinnitus, it’s important to know how you got it. Tinnitus is a neurological disorder, so it makes sense that it would sometimes be genetic, just as migraines are hereditary (and often comorbid with tinnitus). Here are some interesting discoveries in the search for a genetic cause of tinnitus.

Can Tinnitus be Genetic?

In a study based in Norway, scientists wanted to know if tinnitus can be inherited through genes. They found that about 11 percent of patients have tinnitus as a genetic effect, while the rest experience tinnitus symptoms as a result of environmental factors.

Still, many researchers believe that a higher percentage of tinnitus may develop when hereditary and outside influences combine. Causes of tinnitus can include neurological disorders, vascular illnesses, cell damage from extremely loud noise decibels, or long-term usage of medications known to trigger or worsen tinnitus.

Medications that cause tinnitus

Certain genetic mutations have been linked with tinnitus and hearing loss, such as those associated with neurofibromatosis type II (NFII) and von Hippel-Lindau (YHL) disease. Tinnitus can also occur as a secondary condition to a genetic disorder.

“Such a low heritability is a surprising find because most other diseases studied earlier have been more or less hereditary. We had expected that genetics and the environment would be roughly as important as each other,” – Dr Ellen Kvestad, Division for Mental Health, Norwegian Institute of Public Health, author of study on tinnitus as a genetic disorder.

Ménière’s disease

Tinnitus is one of the most common symptoms of Meniere’s disease; other symptoms include hearing loss, vertigo, nausea, and ear pressure.

In an important study on tinnitus and Meniere’s disease, scientists tested a large family of 135 individuals for signs of tinnitus and found that 9 family members suffered from symptoms of progressive Meniere’s disease, including tinnitus and hearing loss. Researchers hope to use this information to prove the possibility of genetic causes of tinnitus, hearing loss, and vestibular disorders.


The understanding of tinnitus as a genetic condition is still new, but scientists hope to one day use molecular testing to diagnose and treat tinnitus in families where tinnitus or Meniere’s disease is inherited.

To test for tinnitus, visit your doctor. You may be referred to an audiologist, neurologist, chiropractor, osteopath, or ENT doctor.

Alternatively, a natural herbalist may recommend herbs, vitamins, and minerals that provide positive results in people suffering from tinnitus, dizziness, and nausea.


Your susceptibility for tinnitus relies on a combination of genetic and non-genetic risk factors, such as medication usage, age, exposure to noise, and neurological health.

Tinnitus as a directly inherited genetic condition is still yet to be determined, but scientists are following promising evidence.

Image courtesy of ddpavumba/freedigitalphotos

About 1 in every 1,000 people suffers from Meniere’s Disease, a vestibular disorder that causes constant tinnitus (ear ringing, whooshing sounds, hissing), vertigo (imbalance, dizziness, lightheadedness), and hearing loss.  If you have chronic tinnitus, then it’s important to find out if Meniere’s Disease is the cause, so that you may get proper treatment and prevent deafness in old age.

When Tinnitus Means Meniere’s Disease

Symptoms of Tinnitus and Meniere’s Disease

Tinnitus isn’t an illness, but rather a condition that occurs when there is damage to the inner ear. Symptoms of tinnitus include persistent ringing in the ears, or similar sounds such as buzzing, chirping, whistling, whooshing, pounding, and hissing noises.

When tinnitus is chronic, it can be difficult to get to sleep or concentrate on anything other than the continuous ear ringing. Anxiety and depression are common comorbid conditions of tinnitus.

Meniere’s Disease (Ménière’s disease) is a balance disorder that results from excess fluids in the inner ears. Symptoms include tinnitus, in addition to severe vertigo, headaches, ear pressure, giddiness, anxiety, and hypersensitivity to noise, nausea, and even vision problems.

What Causes Meniere’s Disease?

Scientists aren’t certain exactly what causes Meniere’s disease, nor is there a cure.  Many believe symptoms of tinnitus and dizziness from Meniere’s could result from a viral infection, allergy, autoimmune disorder, hypertension, or simple genetics.

Certain triggers can worsen symptoms of Meniere’s Disease, including fatigue, stress, insomnia, weather changes, and ingredients in food, such as salt.

How is Meniere’s Disease Diagnosed?

There’s no quick test for Meniere’s Disease, and it can sometimes slip off the radar. In addition to seeing a general practitioner, you may also need to visit an audiologist, neurologist, osteopath, ENT (ear, nose, throat) doctor, and a chiropractor.

Treatment Options

If you suffer from extreme vertigo, then your doctor may recommend motion sickness drugs or anti-nausea medications. These may provide temporary relief, although without addressing the underlying cause of Meniere’s Disease.

To prevent or alleviate Meniere’s Disease naturally, it’s important to find out what your triggers are, and follow a tinnitus diet that puts trigger avoidance into action. This can be done by keeping a tinnitus diary and recording symptoms, diet, and medications for several days.

Natural alternative methods of dealing with tinnitus, dizziness, headaches, and nausea from Meniere’s are also very helpful; they include:

Herbs, vitamins, and minerals that promote good circulation and sustain neurological health
Osteopathic manipulative medicine (OMM)

Tinnitus is a neurological disorder, and certain foods such as aspartame trigger tinnitus because they are ototoxic to your ears, meaning that they cause damage to your hearing. Vertigo, ear ringing, and ear fullness are all symptoms of tinnitus that can be alleviated by following a tinnitus-friendly diet. Listed are some foods, drinks, and chemicals that may trigger tinnitus and feelings of dizziness.

Find your tinnitus triggers

Different foods cause different reactions in people with tinnitus; some find that a cup of coffee helps to fight fatigue, thereby improving tinnitus symptoms. Others find that cutting out all caffeinated beverages has significantly improved or completely eradicated tinnitus, vertigo, and other ailments.

Sometimes, hidden allergies can cause tinnitus. Some foods that are highly allergenic include nuts, peppers, nightshade vegetables, dairy products, wheat, and berries.

To be certain about tinnitus triggers in diet, it’s a good idea to put together a diary listing the foods you eat each day and review it regularly for clues.

Make a list of foods known to trigger tinnitus.
Eliminate them from your diet for a few weeks.
Slowly reintroduce them back into your diet, one by one.
Record your levels of tinnitus and dizziness into your diary each day.
You may find that tinnitus symptoms correlate with the reintroduction of a certain tinnitus-triggering food into your diet.

Foods to avoid

To prevent tinnitus from worsening, or to reduce the amount of ear ringing and vertigo you experience each day, try cutting out the following foods, liquids, and additives from your diet, even if you don’t have allergies.


While there’s no concrete evidence that caffeinated drinks such as coffee and tea can exacerbate or cause tinnitus, everybody agrees that caffeine is a stimulant and has diuretic properties. Stress and loss of bodily fluids are common tinnitus triggers.


Also under debate, some people find that having a few drinks within safe limits helps to soothe tinnitus, while others maintain that alcohol is best avoided.


Long-term quinine medication for malaria and drinking of tonic water containing quinine are confirmed tinnitus triggers.


To relieve symptoms of tinnitus and vertigo, it’s imperative to reduce your sodium intake. Salty foods cause high blood pressure, constricting your blood vessels and preventing adequate blood flow to your ears. Hypertension is a proven trigger of tinnitus and vertigo.


The more we learn about refined white sugar, the more we have found that many of the world’s ailments and diseases can be prevented or alleviated just by limiting this unhealthful sweetener.

In relation to tinnitus and vertigo, studies have found that a diabetic diet restricting white sugar can significantly improve symptoms of tinnitus. According to research, nearly 92% of tinnitus sufferers have hyperinsulinemia, a sugar metabolism disorder that results in fluctuating levels of sugar and oxygen delivery to the ears’ inner nerve cells, which in turn may cause tinnitus and vertigo. Consumption of white sugar is a primary cause of hyperinsulinemia, diabetes, and other blood sugar disorders.

Whether you’ve just been diagnosed with tinnitus or you’ve been struggling to manage niggling tinnitus noises for years, it helps to learn all you can about this often debilitating condition. Scientists are constantly researching new ways to treat tinnitus, so it’s important to stay up to date on the facts about tinnitus.

Ototoxic Drugs Cause Hearing Loss and Tinnitus





A recent study on tinnitus prevention found that a drug used to treat epilepsy produced favorable results in animal models. Mice who received retigabine after exposure to loud noise didn’t suffer from tinnitus or other hearing loss later. Though there is no “cure for tinnitus,” the Pittsburgh School of Medicine research sheds some light on how tinnitus may be prevented.

New Hope for Tinnitus Prevention in Epilepsy Drug

Tinnitus is a brain disorder

Tinnitus is not a hearing problem, but rather a neurological disorder that occurs in the dorsal cochlear nucleus (DCN), when certain nerve cells become overactive. Phantom noises like whistling, clicking, screaming, or ringing sounds experienced by tinnitus sufferers are the result of irregular impulses perceived as sound, even in the absence of any real sounds outside the ear’s environment.

Since epilepsy also occurs in the same part of the hyperactive brain, researchers Thanos Tzounopoulos and associates wanted to find out if an epilepsy drug, retigabine, could effectively prevent tinnitus in the same way that it reduces hyperactivity in patients of epilepsy.

Tinnitus study fact sheet

Here are the points of their study on tinnitus prevention in mice exposed to noise-induced ear damage.

Lab mice were sedated and exposed to 116-decibel sound levels, equal to those of a passing ambulance siren, for about 45 minutes, twice daily for five days.
After the first 30 minutes of each session, half of the test group was given injections of the epilepsy drug.
Seven days after the last session, scientists conducted startle experiments to determine if any of the mice developed tinnitus.
They found that tinnitus prevention was most evident in mice who received the epilepsy treatment, where 50% of mice who didn’t receive the injections exhibited nervous symptoms indicating tinnitus.
Scientists concluded that retigabine can possibly prevent even chronic tinnitus caused by noise-induced damage to the brain’s auditory center, the dorsal cochlear nucleus (DCN).

“There is no cure for tinnitus, and current therapies such as hearing aids don’t provide relief for many patients, says lead researcher Tzounopoulos. “We hope that by identifying the underlying cause, we can develop effective interventions.”

Treating tinnitus

Currently, the anti-epileptic drug is not approved for use as tinnitus prevention. But using the same theory of tinnitus as a result of neurological pathways of the part of the brain which controls our perception of sound, it is possible that certain “brain vitamins” can provide similar benefits to tinnitus patients.

B vitamins, such as vitamin B12, folic acid, and vitamin B1 aid in preventing nerve damage by sustaining healthy myelin, a fatty substance that coats the nerve synapses and promotes healthy interaction between the network of nerve cells and the brain.
CoQ10 boosts mitochondrial energy in proper cell formation, and has provided optimal clinical results in tinnitus prevention.
Ginkgo biloba has been found to sustain healthy blood flow in the vessels near the ears, a factor which often influenced tinnitus frequency.
Many other nutrients contain antioxidants that kill free radicals, reducing your chances for developing ototoxicity caused by chemicals that harm your hearing and lead to tinnitus.

 Also read:

Vitamin B for Tinnitus? Show me the Proof.

Understanding Tinnitus- What does it All Mean?

Top 3 Ginkgo Biloba Health Benefits

The House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs (VA) recently ordered a report on the Tinnitus Research and Treatment Act, a veterans legislation that would increase funding for tinnitus research and raise awareness for tinnitus as a debilitating condition that affects a significant number of veterans. Here are some key points of the Tinnitus Research and Treatment Act:

The Tinnitus Research and Treatment Act: What it Means for You

Tinnitus among Veterans

Tinnitus is a serious health concern among many US veterans; in 2012, tinnitus claims cost the VA $1.5 million in disability compensation. Tinnitus is the most common cause of disability for veterans in all branches of service, whether it is the army, air force, or marines.

Yet the VA only spends about $1.2 million each year on research for tinnitus and other hearing impairments that occur in the line of duty- a miniscule amount compared to other programs they offer.

“It seems to me that $1.2 million is not enough for the VA’s participation in it. It seems to me that if this is something, and clearly it is, that our veterans are suffering from, that the VA should be taking a significant leadership role in trying to lead the research…to find cures for this,” said Ranking VA Member Brownley of the need for more tinnitus research.

Tinnitus Research and Treatment Act

The Tinnitus Research and Treatment Act would increase funds to support more tinnitus research and treatment, including filling in “gap areas” in tinnitus research.
The Tinnitus Research and Treatment Act would also require the VA to work in correlation with the Department of Defense Hearing Center of Excellence on Auditory Injury, in order to implement tinnitus research and provide advanced clinical care for US veterans suffering from tinnitus.

From the Congressional Budget Office:

“H.R. 1443 would require the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to treat tinnitus as a condition for research and treatment at VA Auditory Centers of Excellence. Tinnitus, the medical term for the sensation of hearing sound when no external sound is present, is the most common disability among veterans and may be caused by exposure to loud sounds during military service. The VA already provides tinnitus treatment at all its audiology clinics.”

Read the Congressional Budget Office HR 1443 form on the Tinnitus Research and Treatment Act.

Like this? Read more:

Understanding Tinnitus- What does it All Mean?

Tinnitus Awareness Week 2013 Honors War Veterans

8 Important Reasons to Find out What’s Causing Your Tinnitus

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Certain prescription drugs can, over time, have an ototoxic effect on your hearing, causing hearing loss and ear ringing from tinnitus. Ototoxicity may be reversible or may be permanent, depending on the type of medication used, dosage and duration of treatment. There are many medications that have been listed as potentially ototoxic drugs, including antidepressants, antibiotics, and many painkillers.

List of Ototoxic Drugs that Cause Tinnitus

What are ototoxic drugs?

Ototoxic medications have a toxic effect on the nerve cells of your inner ears. Over time, long-term usage of certain prescription medications can result in tinnitus or hearing loss.

Please speak with your doctor before discontinuing or reducing your intake of any medication.

Here is a list of medications that can potentially cause tinnitus.

Salicylates – Aspirin and aspirin containing products
Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDS) – Advil, Aleve, Anaprox, Clinoril, Feldene, Indocin, Lodine, Motrin, Nalfon, Naprosyn, Nuprin, Poradol, Voltarin.
Antibiotics – Aminoglycosides, Erythromycin, Vancomycin

Aminoglycosides – Streptomycin, Kanamycin, Neomycin, Gantamycin, Tobramysin, Amikacin, and Netilmicin
Erythromycin – EES, Eryc, E-mycin, Ilosone, Pediazole and new derivatives of Erythromycin, Biaxin, and Zithromax
Vancomycin – Vincocin

Loop Diuretics – Lasix, Endecrin, and Bumex
 Chemotherapy Agents – Cisplatin, Nitrogen Mustard, and Vincristine
 Quinine – Aralen, Atabrine (for treatment of malaria), Legatrin, and Q-Vel Muscle Relaxant (for treatment of night cramps)