Tinnitus is a bothersome ringing, roaring, whistling, hissing, humming or buzzing sound in the ears with no external source. Symptoms vary from person to person and can range from a mild nuisance to a debilitating experience. While most people with tinnitus wish for a magic pill they can pick up from Athens Pharmacy that can make their symptoms disappear, sadly this does not exist. We review more about over-the-counter (OTC) tinnitus “cures” below.
Can Dietary Supplements Help Tinnitus?
While the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved any dietary supplements for the treatment of tinnitus, some believe that they can provide relief. Unfortunately, no well-designed studies have showed them to be helpful.
This article by Cláudia Barros Coelho, M.D., Ph.D., overviews some of the claims about dietary supplements and what the research shows to be true; her findings are summarized below.
Gingko biloba is the most studied dietary supplement in tinnitus treatment. It is thought to improve tinnitus symptoms by increasing the blood circulation in the inner ear and brain, as well as protecting against free radicals. Results on its efficacy are conflicting, with some studies showing positive effect and others showing no effect.
Zinc is an element that plays a critical role in the cochlear and neuronal function, and zinc deficiency has been linked to tinnitus. Multiple studies have shown zinc supplements to be no more effective in the treatment of tinnitus than placebos, through people whose symptoms are due to a zinc deficiency may receive some benefit.
Vitamin B12 is essential when it comes to neurologic and circulatory functions. A B12 deficiency may impair the vascular and nervous systems of the auditory system and cause hearing loss and tinnitus. Preliminary testing of B12 for the treatment of tinnitus shows promise, though further research is needed.
Melatonin helps facilitate sleep, protects against free radicals and has antioxidant effects. One review showed that melatonin may have a positive effect on sleep problems caused by tinnitus, but not necessarily on the tinnitus itself.
Magnesium is essential in many bodily functions, including hearing. Decreased magnesium levels have been associated with tinnitus, and preliminary studies show that magnesium supplements likely benefit ear functions, suggesting it may help with tinnitus perception, though further research is needed.
Should You Take Supplements for Your Tinnitus?
While some preliminary research on dietary supplements shows promise, there is more research to be done. You should never start taking a dietary supplement to treat an auditory symptom without talking to your doctor first, as drug interactions may occur, and some medical conditions can make certain supplements dangerous. For information about tinnitus treatment options or to schedule an appointment with a tinnitus expert, call the Georgia Hearing Center at ENT of Athens today.