British Tinnitus Association
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Hi everyone i have had tinnitus for 5 years and it was first brought on from use of anti depressants. For 5 years i have avoided taking any form of medication at all costs in fear of making my tinnitus any worse. Recently i have had a bit of a health issue and have no choice but to take 2 forms of antibiotics prescribed by my doctor. I am terrified of taking them but it is pretty crucial for me to do so. I was just hoping for a little bit of support from anybody else who feels this way or if have had any similar situations to mine with medications ect. Thanks

12 Replies

Hi Fionaxox,

Antibiotics by iv are more problematic.

If you need them dont worry and have them...just let your doctor know your concerns...

Lots of love glynis

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Yay fionaxox, I totally relate to you I had T 24/7 for 24 years after a major op and I coped with it, then a pain specialist gave me Venlafaxine and after 11 days on it my T in my deaf ear broke the sound barrier! I immediately stopped the drug thinking the T would go back to what it was but it never did and never has and drives me crazy at times as there is no help for it!

As regards the antibiotics, personally I have never had a problem with them and my T and if they are crucial for your health you should seriously consider taking them!

I am slightly anti prescribed drugs except for antibiotics because of my own experiences with them over the years but then again I can neither approve or disapprove of any sort of complimentary medicine as I've never tried it! I hope you come to the right decision that is best for you.

Best wishes



Hi xene, thank you for your reply. Have you ever had any experience with the antibiotic metronidazole? Unsympathetic doctors who dont understand this problem make it awful :( i feel the dosage is so high aswell but was basically just told i had to take them even after expressing my concerns with my ears x


Yay fionaxox, No I've never had metronidazole so can't comment. Sorry to hear your doctor wasn't very understanding about your concerns, doesn't really inspire you with confidence! Obviously he/she wants to treat your condition and a lower dosage may/may not be as effective?



Hi i am new to this site i too have got tinnitus bought on by anti depressants. I fear taking any kind of medicines, but unfortunetly in life there are times we will need some sort of medication for some reason. I have only just finished a course of anti biotics myself and i am pleased to say they have not made my tinnitus worse in anyway.I am also on anti depressants that arnt toxic to my ears i find these help with the loudness of my T. I guess all i can say is if you really need the medication take it because if your tinnitus does spike it will return to its normal range once you have finished them. I have my fingers crossed that you will be ok. Take care x


Hi jabs37, thank you for your reassurance. Reading horror stories online of it making other people's tinnitus worse does not help :( can i ask what antibiotic it was that you have just had and if you have any experience of the antibiotic metronidazole? Thanks x


Hi my antibiotics were amoxocillin. I was given them as a weeks course as i needed root canal treatment on my second to back top tooth. The actually dental work has caused my T to spike because of the noise and vibrations of the drill, but it is already starting to settle back down. I know about all the horror stories there terrible they actually make you fearful of doing or taking anything. Thats were the T starts to control you, we have to try and not let that happen which is easier said than done, because for me theres never a day goes by were i dont hear and think about it.

I dont have any knowledge of metronidazole but all i can say is give them a try if you feel they are making your T worse go back to your doctors. Don't read to much into those horrer stories i think alot of those people were just having a bad day with there T as we all do.

I hope i have helped in some way just remember your health is more important than a spike in your T dont let it control you. Xx


Thank you very much, yes that helps a lot i think i will take the medication as you say my health depends on it and i will just have to put up with the T :( x


Drugs and tinnitus

Living with tinnitus Find out more (information leaflets) Other information

Drugs and tinnitus

Many people with tinnitus worry that certain drugs or medicines may have caused their tinnitus. A browse through a medical textbook or a search on the internet would seem to reinforce that view as there are numerous reports of tinnitus being associated with medication. In fact, when these claims are subjected to proper scientific scrutiny the number of drugs that genuinely cause tinnitus is extremely small.

For the majority of the most commonly prescribed drugs the number of people who report tinnitus while taking the drug is tiny, usually less than 1 in 1000 people. This applies to most drugs for high blood pressure, cholesterol lowering drugs (statins), drugs given for anxiety and most antidepressants. Even those drugs that do cause tinnitus tend to result in temporary tinnitus: once the drug is discontinued the tinnitus usually disappears. Also, where drugs do cause tinnitus the effect is usually dose dependent. In other words, the normal dose that a doctor would prescribe does not cause tinnitus. It is only unusually large doses that result in tinnitus.

Why is it that there are so many reports of drugs causing tinnitus but so few scientifically confirmed cases?

The reasons for this apparent contradiction are interesting. Firstly tinnitus is common and taking medication for one condition or another is also common. It is therefore inevitable that there should be some coincidences and some people will develop their tinnitus while taking certain drugs just by chance. They may then blame the drug even though it is blameless. If the patient reports this to their general practitioner the doctor has a duty to fill in a report card and send it to an organisation called the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA). The information is then stored so that other doctors can access it to advise their patients. Thus a small number of reports of tinnitus can label a drug as a “tinnitus causer” even though the tinnitus may have been coincidental to taking the medication.

There is another way that drugs may get accused of causing tinnitus: drugs are administered to treat medical conditions or illnesses. Having the illness that requires treatment is a stressful event. Stress is a well recognised trigger for tinnitus and consequently in many cases it is the stress of the illness rather than the drug used to treat the illness that triggers the tinnitus.

Specific drugs and tinnitus

Nonetheless, there are a small number of drugs that do cause tinnitus. Many of these drugs are only given for serious illnesses where there is no alternative and once again the BTA would like to stress that no-one should alter their medication without first discussing it with the prescribing doctor.


Aspirin in large doses has long been recognised as being able to cause tinnitus and indeed researchers use this property to deliberately produce tinnitus in animal experiments. In the normal small doses used to treat headaches or flu it is very unlikely that aspirin will cause tinnitus. Similarly the tiny doses of aspirin that many middle aged and elderly people take to prevent heart attacks or strokes are extremely unlikely to result in tinnitus.

Aspirin used to be used in much larger doses to treat some rheumatological conditions and when given at these very high doses tinnitus sometimes did occur. However this effect was generally reversible: once the aspirin was stopped or the dosage reduced, the tinnitus disappeared. Such large doses of aspirin are almost never used nowadays as there are more effective, modern, alternative drugs available to treat these conditions.

A very small number of people are unusually sensitive to aspirin and develop reversible tinnitus at very low doses. Clearly such people should avoid aspirin and contact their doctor for advice regarding alternative drugs.


Quinine and some of the other anti-malarial drugs can occasionally cause damage to the ear when given in high or prolonged doses, such as in the treatment of malaria. However, taken in low doses to prevent malaria or to relieve night cramps, this does not usually happen. In the rare cases where people on these low doses of quinine do report tinnitus it is temporary and ceases as soon as they discontinue the medication.

Aminoglycoside antibiotics

There is a small group of very specialised, powerful antibiotics that can be ototoxic – in other words they can damage the inner ear. This damage can cause hearing loss and a small number of the affected people develop tinnitus as a consequence of this hearing loss. This group is known as the aminoglycoside antibiotics and includes streptomycin and gentamicin (Selimoglu 2007). These drugs are not available as tablets, syrups or other oral preparations and are generally given by injection in hospital for severe, life threatening infections. Damage to the ear only occurs when the amount of the drug in the blood stream exceeds certain levels. For this reason the level is closely monitored by regular blood tests. However, there are certain conditions such as renal failure when the level of the drug can rise unpredictably and allow dangerous levels to be reached. In these rare circumstances, tinnitus can occur.

Aminoglycosides are also a component of some ear drops. These ear drops are only available on prescription: all the ear drops that can be purchased at a pharmacy without a prescription in the United Kingdom do not contain aminoglycosides. Although there is a theoretical risk, aminoglycoside ear drops do not generally cause ear damage and ear specialists are happy to prescribe them in reasonably short courses. However, any patient who is worried about taking such drops should discuss the matter with their doctor – there may be an alternative.

Cytotoxic drugs

The other main group of drugs which can damage the inner ear are the cytotoxic drugs used in treating cancer. Despite the power of such drugs, damage to the ear is surprisingly uncommon. The main group of cytotoxic drugs that can damage the ear is the group containing platinum, including cisplatin and, to a lesser extent, carboplatin and oxaliplatin. The specialist doctors who prescribe such drugs are very well aware of their potential side effects and usually discuss the matter in great detail prior to treatment. Also, where possible, patients receiving such drugs will have their hearing tested on a regular basis to identify any ear damage at an early stage, before any serious deterioration occurs.


Some other drugs which are occasionally ototoxic are a group of drugs called loop diuretics which are used to increase the production of urine in the treatment of high blood pressure, heart failure and some kidney disorders. Ototoxicity only occurs with large doses and the relatively small dose given for mild or moderate hypertension (high blood pressure) does not cause damage to the ear. Even with large doses such diuretics probably only cause permanent damage when used in combination with other ototoxic drugs.

Idiosyncratic drug reactions

Although the vast majority of drugs do not cause tinnitus in most patients there is a small group of patients who will have an unexpected – or idiosyncratic – reaction to their medication. Any patient who suspects this should discuss the matter with their doctor. There may well be a suitable alternative medication or a different dosage regime that may help.

Recreational drugs

Although the BTA cannot condone the use of such substances, there is no evidence that marijuana, cocaine or heroin usage increases the risk of developing tinnitus. Indeed there has been discussion among some patient groups as to whether marijuana could help tinnitus. Although there is not much research on this topic, the evidence that is available suggests that it is not helpful. The use of hallucinogenic drugs and inhalants (solvents) does seem to be associated with increased risk of developing tinnitus.


Thank you glynis65 that makes a very interesting read! I have noticed a change in my tinnitus since taking the drug but it does make me wonder now if it could just be down to high stress levels at this moment in time...

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Thanks Glynis for posting our drugs information - I was going to signpost fionaxox to that, as I think it explains the situation quite well. If anyone would like a copy of this leaflet to download, it can be found at

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Caroverine;Piracetam +Gingobiloba+ Vinpocetine


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