Tinnitus and Drug or Pharmaceutical Therapies

Pharmaceutical interventions for tinnitus have been tested over the years. When hearing news about a drug trial it is important to understand the type of tinnitus sufferer on which the clinical trial is focusing. There is a difference between an intervention meant for acute tinnitus or tinnitus that has developed recently due to a noise trauma, versus chronic tinnitus that may have been present for years. To date, there have not been any successful trials of a drug for tinnitus and the FDA has not approved any pharmaceutical intervention for tinnitus of any kind (Zenner et al., 2017). Research is continuing in this direction and there has been more of a focus recently on short-term tinnitus that would have recently developed. Part of this may be because such interventions can target the inner ear as opposed to brain changes. Brain changes that may occur in the hearing brain over months or years are not something that can be easily targeted by a drug. Of course, we are also not discussing potential side effects of such drugs. All of this does not mean however that progress cannot or will not be made in terms of a pharmaceutical intervention. There is continued research in this area.

At times, you may come across treatments involving ginkgo extract in some form or combination. Fortunately, a number of studies have looked at such treatments and compared them with placebo groups. Unfortunately, to date none of the studies showed that using this extract provides meaningful benefits across a tinnitus population (Drew and Davies, 2001; Rejali et al., 2004; Han et al., 2012). In addition, a review of 6000 tinnitus sufferers trying ginkgo biloba reported potential side effects including dizziness, upset stomach and other reactions (Roland and Nergard, 2012). Unfortunately, some of these remedies like gingko extracts continue to be sold to tinnitus sufferers despite a lack of clinical evidence.
One should always consult with their physician before attempting to use any remedies, whether they are pharmaceutical or natural remedies.

 

References:

Eur Arch Otorhinolaryngol. 2017 May;274(5):2079-2091. doi: 10.1007/s00405-016-4401-y. Epub 2016 Dec 19.
A multidisciplinary systematic review of the treatment for chronic idiopathic tinnitus.
Zenner HP1, Delb W2, Kröner-Herwig B3, Jäger B4, Peroz I5, Hesse G6, Mazurek B7, Goebel G8, Gerloff C9, Trollmann R10, Biesinger E11, Seidler H12, Langguth B13.

BMJ. 2001 Jan 13;322(7278):73.
Effectiveness of Ginkgo biloba in treating tinnitus: double blind, placebo controlled trial.
Drew S1, Davies E.

Clin Otolaryngol Allied Sci. 2004 Jun;29(3):226-31.
Ginkgo biloba does not benefit patients with tinnitus: a randomized placebo-controlled double-blind trial and meta-analysis of randomized trials.
Rejali D1, Sivakumar A, Balaji N.

Han SS, Nam EC, Won JY, Lee KU, Choi HK, Levine RA (2012) Clonazepam quiets tinnitus: a randomised crossover study with Ginkgo biloba. J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry 83:821–827

Tidsskr Nor Laegeforen. 2012 Apr 30;132(8):956-9. doi: 10.4045/tidsskr.11.0780.
[Ginkgo biloba–effect, adverse events and drug interaction].
[Article in Norwegian]
Roland PD1, Nergård CS.

 

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