Tinnitus Woes

Tinnitus Image from www.audioclinic.com

Tinnitus or Ringing in your ears can be an annoyance or a disability. I’ve had patients describe it in many ways. While I always treat it seriously, it often reminds me of taking my car to the mechanic and with growing embarrassment, watching the spreading of an amused grin on the technician’s face as I try and reproduce the sounds my car is making.

Trust me though, I know that Tinnitus can be more than an annoyance. I have it myself. It was one of the original reasons I started wearing hearing aids. My husband has it also and there are times that we argue about who’s Tinnitus is louder and whether he’s actually hearing mine instead of his. And as funny as that sounds, while the majority of Tinnitus is an internal sound not directly associated with your ears, some of it has a physical source that can actually be heard by others.

Image from New York Times Well Blog

While there isn’t a cure for Tinnitus yet, there are ways to manage it. If you pay attention to your diet, you may find that your Tinnitus is adversely affected by foods and drugs. Alcohol, Aspirin and Caffiene are all known to affect Tinnitus. Also foods like Salt and Saturated Fats. Even stress can add to the effect in some people. I can attest that some of those things will affect the volume of my Tinnitus.

So, while a change in diet may help, there is no actual cure at this time. Depending on the severity, hearing aids implementing masking technology can help, but even that’s not a 100% cure. Come and see me and we can discuss solutions that might be helpful for your situation. For other sources to read up on Tinnitus, try this article by Audio Clinic and this article at True Sound. You can also check out the American Tinnitus Association. You’re not alone if you are a sufferer.

In closing, just because I’m telling you the condition is common, it’s not necessarily something you should ignore. Tinnitus can be the precursor to Vestibular Disorders, TMJ, Tumors and conditions such as Meniere’s Disease. Get it checked out to make sure it’s just annoying and not something worse you need to address.

If you want to  learn more, check out the links above. But if you start Google searching, beware of spurious claims for cures.

Link to New York Times Well Blog here

Ibuprofen, Acetaminophen and Hearing

There are a myriad of things that can adversely affect your hearing. Ibuprofen and Acetaminophen are just a couple of over the counter drugs that may affect your hearing. Another being Aspirin which which is linked to Tinnitus. Always check the side effects and discuss them with your doctor or Audiologist if there is any indication that the drug may be Ototoxic. So you can be on the look out, the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) has provided a list of ototoxic drugs here.

Thanks to Dr. Oz and Dr. Roizen for the article on the effects of Ibuprofen and Acetaminophen below. You can read more of their work at their website here. Also thanks to The Pilot News where I originally saw this article.


Can you hear me now?

By Michael Roizen, M.D. and Mehmet Oz, M.D. on
Paul Marcarelli, Verizon’s former “Can you hear me now?” guy, heard the call and decided to switch to another phone company. Well, for folks who are experiencing or are at risk for hearing loss, switching brands might be a smart move, too.Reviewing data on almost 56,000 women from the Nurses’ Health Study, researchers writing in the American Journal of Epidemiology found that using some over-the-counter pain relievers, such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen, twice a week or more may up your risk of hearing loss by as much as 24 percent. The longer you take those OTCs, the more hazardous it is. So maybe it’s time for you to switch to another kind of pain relief.

But how do these seemingly harmless meds cause hearing loss? Well, ibuprofen can reduce blood flow to the small, snail-shaped organ in the inner ear called the cochlea. It translates sound into nerve impulses and filters out background noise. A reduced blood flow can kill off cells that help you perceive sound. Acetaminophen may deplete the body of an antioxidant called glutathione, which protects the cochlea from damage by blocking oxidative stress. Aspirin wasn’t associated with such problems.

Ibuprofen also can damage your stomach and gastrointestinal system, raise blood pressure and reduce the benefits of aspirin, which decreases cardiovascular disease and cancer risk. Acetaminophen also can trigger liver problems! So use these pain relievers sparingly. Your alternatives? Meditation, acupuncture, massage, stretching, exercise, a new mattress or cognitive behavioral therapy. Can you hear us now?


Mehmet Oz, M.D. is host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and Mike Roizen, M.D. is Chief Wellness Officer and Chair of Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic. To live your healthiest, tune into “The Dr. Oz Show” or visit www.sharecare.com.