Flecainide & Tinnitus

Hi, I have been on Flecainide 100mg twice a day since my cardioversion in July for AF and over the past few weeks have developed ringing in my right ear that is now constant and annoying. I have read that ringing in the ears is a rare side effect of Flecainide.

I have searched this forum and others have experienced Tinnitus but I had no problems with hearing before starting Flecainide -I know it is easy to blame the drugs.

Has anyone experienced this before and will it disappear over time or will I have to stop the med and then how long does it take to subside? I'm due to see my consultant in 2 weeks time but should I see my GP first to check it? I'm generally feeling well

and been in SR since my CV.

I'm also taking Bisoprolol 2.5mg

Thanks,

Stuart

40 Replies

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  • I have had the most horrendous tinnitus for years now. I am on 100x2 Flecainide and 1.25mg bisoprolol each day.

    I cannot remember when the tinnitus started. It is so loud every waking hour and gets even worse when I am tired or stressed.

    I have never linked it with my AF and the drugs I have to take and unless I come off them, unlikely in the foreseeable future, I am resigned to just putting up with it.

    Pete

  • Hi Pete,

    Have you never mentioned it to you doctor. Perhaps a change of med.

    I must admit being diagnosed with AF this year has hit me a bit, along with the drugs and now this. Makes me wonder how everyone copes.

  • Can't come off Flecainide right now as only alternative would be Amiodarone and I really do not get on with that drug.

    Control of AF is more important to me at present.

    I was referring to hearing clinic once but they only offered me counselling and white noise ear plugs. Neither helped.

    I have never associated my tinnitus with Flecainide. I put it down to standing too close to the speakers at a Who performance in the sixties at Worthing Pier Pavilion and other similar loud music nights out.

    My son in law also thinks that my AF was started when I was struck by lightning years ago. I can't tie up the dates in my mind so cannot be sure but maybe........

    Pete

  • Amiodarone is the same gives me ringing in ear

  • exactly my story too!! I find at night that if it's very annoying I have some headphones and a small MP3 music player which I put on low to distract. Otherwise try not to pay it any attention and think of something nice,it is a skill but you can manage it over time.Best wishes

    carol

  • Loud music probably caused it and now I use it to mask it.

    Silence is rarely an option.

    Pete

  • See my response to Stucoo. It goes for you, too.

  • Thanks for your advice.

    Mine is 24/7. Luckily I have learned to be able to go to sleep.

    It's the quiet moments that are the worst.

    Pete

  • That's for da--ed sure.

  • I had it when taking flecainide. It stopped about two months after stopping taking it.

  • That's interesting. Did you change to another medication? I wonder why it took so long to go away after stopping the medication.

  • Sometimes some of the active ingredients in a med can linger in the system after you have ceased treatment. I once had thyroid problems caused by my taking Amiodorone for my AF. I had ceased taking the Amiodorone 2 yrs previously. My GP told me it was definitely that, that caused it.

  • I had an EP study undertaken by my electro physiologist in London, he could not find or stimulate the rogue electrical signals so could not ablate them. He concluded that rather than take the flecainide on a regular basis I should take it as and when my paroxysmal atrial fib/tachycardia episodes came. Hope this helps.

  • No not taking another med have flecainide as pill in the pocket now to take as and when an episode kicks in. The tinnitus was when I was taking it twice a day as a regular medication. I guess it takes a while to fully leave you're system and things to settle down again.

  • That's great. If you don't mind me asking, what was the circumstance around going for regular to PiP? I would like to do the same but I was in persistent AF.

  • PIP is only for those in PAF taken to revert when an episode of AF occurs.

    Pete

  • Are you in persistent ad and still taking flecainide?

  • I have been in NSR since my cardioversion in July and have been taking Flecainide since then. Obviously I don't know if I would still be in NSR without it. Double edged sword really.

  • No I have PAF. I have to stay on Flecainide for the time being.

    My recent ablation follow up appointment is in January.

    For me controlling the AF is top priority after all the years of suffering so I would need convincing to take the plunge and stop the Flecainide.

    Would be good to be free of all of it but I think that is hoping for too much.

    Pete

  • I take Flecanide as well and suffer ringing in my ears. It's getting louder and more annoying. I have mentioned it to my GP, and EP and no one seems to want to address it. Maybe an Ear, Nose and Throat specialist can help. I've put up with it because I can't imagine going to anymore Doctors! Gracey

  • I know what you mean about going to the doctors, it's like getting on a-merry -go-round, but I will get it checked out

  • Don't put up with it. The longer it goes on the less the chance it will ever go away.

  • how strange that I didn't associate the ringing in my ears with my meds but now you mention it I have only had the noise since being diagnosed with AF and it's more noticeable in the last year when my Flecainide was increased. I will mention it when I see my cardiologist. So thank you

  • Hi Stuart, I am on same dose Flec and have tinnitus as well, I suspect they could be connected. Mine started in the right ear and is predominant there and then later the left ear joined in to a lesser extent. The medics sent me for a scan as one ear tinni can mean in rare cases some other issue e.g. tumour but I wouldn't worry too much as I think they were just being over cautious. My results were fine and the prominence in the right ear is most likely due to my carotid artery (also clear after a scan) being much bigger that side - maybe you have the same?

    Flec (I'm not taking anything else) works too well for me to reduce or change now but hope to cut it down sometime in the next year.

    I suggest you try reducing sugar and gluten in your diet both of those seemed to turn down the volume (as well as being better for you all-round) for me and I notice it goes up after a binge. I also suspect Mindfulness, relaxation and breathing exercises help. Now although the tinni is still there, except when I sit down very quietly, it rarely bothers me in the day and it doesn't stop me going to sleep.

    Hope something there helps.

  • Might be an idea to check your blood pressure. I've been on flecainide and bisoprolol for years but my tinnitus started this year when I developed raised BP. Just a thought.

  • Thanks, I check mine regularly and it is on the low side.

  • I take 150mg daily Flecainide for my AF. I also suffer from tinnitus in my right ear. Couldn't exactly say when it started but it has definitely got worse. I would describe it more as white noise than ringing but it certainly never goes away. I do find it helps to have a radio on quietly all the time but I also find it is worse when I am in AF or stressed. Like other people who have replied, I have never linked it to the meds but who knows. I think it is one of those conditions that very little is known about. Not a lot of help but at least you know you are not alone.

  • Thanks for the reply. Mine at times is similar to a dentist drill or some electrical device like a fridge.

  • I discovered some time ago, before ever taking Flecainude, that my taking aspirin products (arthritis) was causing terrible tinnitus in both ears, so discontinued those and began an OTC called Lipo-Flavinoid, specifically for tinnitus. After using it faithfully, even while on flec, the tinnitus has reduced significantly. It also, incidentally, took care of the vitamin B deficiency my blood work had shown. Hope this helps some fellow silver bell earringers.

  • I've had tinnitus for well over 30 years - long before I had heart problems and then PAF. Apart from meds it may be worth have your hearing checked - hearing loss is usually gradual. I was once told that hearing loss, which is the usual cause of tinnitus, was sometimes associated with heart disease - but perhaps I misheard!

  • Hearing loss and heart disease

    betterhearing.org/news/hear...

  • I also have had tinnitus for some years now. I went to the GP and he told me it was probably excess mucous in my nasal and Eustachian tubes and to do some steam inhalation's!! It didn't work.

    I am on Flecainide 100 x 2 a day. Interesting to note the frequency with which it is linked. Does anybody know if it's a recognised symptom of the Flecainide?

  • In the pamphlet with my brand of Flecainide it states ringing in the ears as a rare side effect. Judging by the comments here I would say it is a common side effect! I thought for a while yesterday while at work that it had gone as I couldn't hear it, but once I focused on my hearing it returned - I suppose I had just tuned it out. It is very annoying though all the same.

  • I too was on Flecainide (50/2x) and had terrible side effects. The final straw that almost drove me up to the wall was the ringing and fullness feeling in BOTH my ears. Went to my PCP and he checked me out, then sadly told me that it was one of the side effects of Flecainide. I stayed on the stuff until the night before my ablation and mercifully, about 6 weeks later, all the hideous effects of the Flecainide finally left my system. I have this as a PIP and am on Eliquis. Keeping my fingers crossed that I don't EVER have to go back on it.

  • I was a US artillery officer and developed tinnitus, mild vertigo and some hearing loss after a stateside firing demonstration that went wrong. That was in 1974. I've had tinnitus ever since. I have not experienced silence since then and never will.

    You have my undying compassion, sympathy even. I can't tell you the misery I've lived with. It took about 30 years for me to get over my white-hot anger at the Army. Thanks to a couple decades of meditation and mindfulness practice, I've come to accept it and have learned to let go of the corrosive anger and resentment toward people who put me in harm's way.

    You may or may not lose the ringing. My suggestion is to pay attention to it with a curious and open mind. Get to know its patterns, its variations, and especially your reactions. Always treat it with curiosity and forbearance, as you would a young child who is developmentally disabled and can't control its tantrums.

    It will help to learn to meditate, which develops concentration, awareness, and mindfulness. The tinnitus can be a point of focus, and it can fade into the background when focusing on the breath or something else. If you pay attention, you'll see that you don't notice it from time to time, and maybe for long periods. Note carefully what's been happening - were you occupied with something, or was it really gone? Mine never left, but if yours comes and goes it could point to something curable, or at least more tolerable.

    Bless you and good luck.

    Koda

  • That sound like me, Koda. I was in the CCF at school firing Lee Enfield rifles with no ear protection. Then I spent 6 years in the Royal Navy as an Ops Officer and was exposed to the 4.5 inch guns firing at targets with minimal protection in 1976. In both cases my ears rung for days afterwards and I've had tinnitus for the last 15 years plus hearing loss. It doesn't usually bother me though I do now wear hearing aids. That's helped a lot and I can now hear higher frequencies and conversation much more easily.

  • I doubt you'd get tinnitus from firing an Enfield, which is just .30 caliber. But the 4.50-guns are certainly another story. I was firing mostly 105-mm (4-in) howitzers. I was the safety officer for a shoot where ear plugs had not been issued. I plugged my ears with small weeds but some idiot gave the order to fire prematurely and I was caught in the blast cone. Lucky for me we were firing the lowest charge. The maximum charge might have killed me, or worse, left me with collapsed lungs and eyes.

    Have you found anything that eases the ringing (or the crickets, or the frog chorus) without a lot of masking?

  • You're right, I shouldn't have had any effects from an Enfield which is just the old .303. However the audiologist said I had a dip in hearing at 3 KHz which is characteristic of gunfire, particularly in my right ear. This puzzled him as I was right handed until I explained that, as I was shortsighted in my right eye, I shot from my left shoulder, thereby exposing my right ear to the sound. However, also I remember in the Navy the target was on the port side, I was on a position behind the gun turret so again my right ear would have taken the brunt.

    The high pitched tinnitus sound I can hear is around 3.5 KHz. It's mainly in my right ear and about as loud as a boiling kettle from about 10 feet. Most of the time I can just ignore it. The hearing aid has helped as it enhances higher frequencies which masks the tinnitus. I can now hear my wife talking in the next room (that's got its downsides!).

    It sounds as though your experience was worse than mine!

    I've used flecainide in the past though it didn't seem to make the tinnitus worse.

  • Yes, but it happened to me after I was on a rate control med, not Anti arrhythmia. I wonder what the connection is. Is it due to slowing our blood flow to areas that could be sensitive. Ive sought out some treatment for tinnitus with little success.

  • Same thing when I was on Flecainide 50 mg bid. After the ablation I was tapered off the Flecainide and the the tinnitus slowly subsided to nothing after 3 months. A few weeks ago the Afib returned, I was started on the Flecainide again, and the tinnitus returned within 2 days.

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