Tinnitus: Which drugs do doctors prescribe?

Drugs that have been proven to be effective against tinnitus are still lacking. However, some medicines are considered for the treatment of acute tinnitus, which can alleviate the symptoms or even contribute to the fact that the tinnitus disappears again.

For the treatment of ear noises mainly circulation-enhancing drugs, cortisone preparations and local anesthetics are used. The active ingredients are usually administered in the form of infusions (in mild cases in tablet form).

The administration of drugs for tinnitus pursues the following three treatment goals:

  • Improvement of the inner ear blood circulation
  • Normalization of disturbed signal processing in the inner ear and auditory nerve
  • Normalization of nerve activity in the hearing centers of the brain

Improve blood flow

If there are no organic causes, an infusion therapy with circulation-enhancing medications is usually initiated. The aim is to improve the circulation of the inner ear.

Active substances are used which increase the blood volume and promote the flow properties of the blood in the inner ear (so-called plasma expanders) as well as substances that contribute to the dilation of the blood vessels (so-called vasodilators). The infusion treatments are carried out daily over a period of up to 10 days.

High dose cortisone

Further, if the cause of the ear noise is unknown, cortisone therapy may also be performed. In addition, treatment with cortisone can occur if an inner ear disease, a hearing loss, Meniere's disease or a noise or bang trauma has triggered tinnitus.

How exactly cortisone works in tinnitus is not known. It is assumed that the preparations have a circulation-promoting and anti-inflammatory effect. In addition, the active ingredient should have a positive effect on the damaged hair cells in the inner ear and also counteract the formation of water retention (edema).

The cortisone is usually sprayed directly by means of an injection into the bloodstream or also supplied by infusion. The therapy is started with a relatively high dose (500 mg per day), which is maintained for three days. The therapy is a total of 10 days, with the dose is slowly reduced again from the third day.

In addition, the following medications can be used:

  • Glutamate receptor blockers such as Caroverin: Glutamate is the most important messenger substance to pass on hearing impressions.
  • Local anesthetics such as novocaine or lidocaine
  • Calcium antagonists for lowering blood pressure
  • Antioxidants such as vitamin E preparations: It is assumed that the hair cells in the inner ear in tinnitus under a lack of oxygen (oxidative stress) suffer.
  • Antibiotics when tinnitus occurs in association with otitis media

The sooner the treatment, the better

Important: An infusion treatment with medication is useful only in the first two to three months after the onset of tinnitus. It is best if a drug therapy as fast as possible, i. within 24 hours of the first occurrence of tinnitus. Because the shorter the tinnitus lasts, the better he can be treated and disappears again.

Tinnitus that persists for more than three months is considered chronic and can no longer be treated with medication. For the treatment of chronic tinnitus, however, there are other treatment options. However, these are less aimed at eliminating the ear noises than at noticing them as little as possible and not allowing them to interfere with them.

Author: Nina Schratt-Peterz