Tinnitus is a ringing, buzzing, or roaring sound in a person’s ears that no one else can hear. Doctors can prescribe medications to reduce tinnitus symptoms, but they cannot cure it.

The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) explains that while there are no specific medications to treat tinnitus, antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications may reduce a person’s symptoms.

This article looks at the medications doctors prescribe for tinnitus and some of the alternative treatments. It also explores the current research into tinnitus medications.

Doctors often prescribe antidepressants or anti-anxiety medications to people with tinnitus. These can help them manage their symptoms.

If a person with tinnitus has trouble sleeping due to tinnitus, doctors may also recommend anesthetics or muscle relaxants.

In the journal, Healthcare (Basel), a 2021 review of medications for tinnitus, researchers note that doctors may also prescribe antihistamines, antiarrhythmics, or calcium channel blockers.

While there is no specific treatment for tinnitus, doctors tailor their prescribed medications to suit the person’s symptoms and may recommend a combination of therapies.

Researchers estimate that around 80% of people with tinnitus also have symptoms of depression.

Many people find that taking tricyclic antidepressants, including amitriptyline, reduces these symptoms and improves their quality of life.

In 2021, researchers, investigating the efficacy of different drug treatments, stated that people taking amitriptyline experienced the most benefits.

Other tricyclic antidepressants that reduce the symptoms of tinnitus include nortriptyline and trimipramine.

The 2021 paper from Healthcare (Basel) also adds that sertraline, a type of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) antidepressant, is particularly effective for people with tinnitus, insomnia, or anxiety.

However, they note that the person’s tinnitus may return once they stop taking the medication.

Doctors know that many people experience tinnitus during times of stress. They may recommend anti-anxiety medication to reduce a person’s symptoms.

These include:

The 2021 paper from Healthcare (Basel) found that people taking clonazepam reported that their tinnitus symptoms were quieter and less annoying, although still present.

Some people treat their tinnitus with vitamins and other supplements. According to the 2021 paper from Healthcare (Basel), some studies show vitamin B12 and folate supplements reduce a person’s symptoms, but other studies do not confirm the findings.

Some people also take Ginkgo biloba extract and melatonin to treat tinnitus and experience good results, but other people find them ineffective.

Tinnitus can be a sign that a person has low levels of zinc. In these cases, supplements can help, but the researchers say it has little effect on people with typical zinc levels.

As there are no specific medications for tinnitus, doctors often prescribe off-label medications to relieve the person’s symptoms.

These include antihistamines, anticonvulsants, sedatives, and sometimes anti-alcohol medications.

Researchers for the 2021 paper from Healthcare (Basel) explain that antihistamines work by reducing the pressure inside a person’s ears, while anticonvulsants may reduce symptoms by subduing any overactivity in the person’s auditory system.

Doctors may prescribe anticonvulsants, including gabapentin, as many people report symptom improvement. They may prescribe this with lidocaine, a sedative that reduces hyperactivity in the person’s central nervous system.

Acamprosate is a type of anti-alcohol medication, but some people find it effective for treating their tinnitus. In the 2021 review of tinnitus treatments, researchers reported that people found it reduced the severity of their symptoms.

Research into medications to treat tinnitus is ongoing.

The NIDCD explains that scientists have discovered a treatment that reduces tinnitus symptoms in mice, and they are hoping this will become an effective treatment for people too.

In a 2023 update into managing tinnitus, researchers question the efficacy of medications to treat tinnitus and explore alternative treatments, including therapy and mindfulness.

They claim people receiving treatments that incorporate counseling experience better results.

More research from 2023 examined the use of bimodal stimulation as a treatment for tinnitus.

This method uses a machine to create two forms of stimulation. It plays sounds in the ear while using a physical stimulus, such as electrical impulses, on the cheek or neck.

The idea is that the person’s brain will “filter out” the tinnitus and make it feel less intense by retraining certain neurons in the brain.

Experts need to conduct more research, but this method has shown some promising results in treating tinnitus.

Almost all medications can produce unwanted side effects.

Researchers for the 2021 paper from Healthcare (Basel) point out that some anti-anxiety medications can lead to dependency, while others raise people’s blood pressure or have a link to heart conditions.

Doctors will explain any possible side effects while prescribing the medications.

Some drugs can cause hearing problems. Common drugs that can cause tinnitus include the immunosuppressant drug, methotrexate, and some diuretics, such as acetazolamide and ethacrynic acid.

High doses of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as aspirin, can cause tinnitus, although this is reversible.

Tinnitus is a ringing, buzzing, or roaring sound in a person’s ears that no one else can hear. Many people experience it from time to time, but for some people, it is a near-constant annoyance.

There is an association between ongoing tinnitus and depression, low self-esteem, and anxiety. When doctors prescribe medications to treat these conditions, many people find their tinnitus subsides, and their symptoms become more manageable.

Doctors may prescribe antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications among others.