Research into the benefits of zinc for tinnitus symptoms provides mixed results. People should speak with a doctor before taking zinc supplements for tinnitus to ensure it is the most appropriate treatment option and avoid zinc toxicity.

Zinc is a micronutrient present in cells throughout the body and in some foods. Zinc is involved in immune system support, cell division and growth, and taste and smell.

Tinnitus is a medical condition that happens when a person perceives sound in one or both ears, often when no external sound source is present. People may describe it as ringing, buzzing, or hissing.

This article looks at the link between zinc and tinnitus, including the potential benefits and risks of zinc supplementation, other treatment options, and when to speak with a doctor.

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Tinnitus can vary in intensity and frequency. It can be temporary or chronic, and it may interfere with a person’s ability to concentrate, sleep, or maintain their quality of life.

According to a 2021 research review, interest in zinc as a potential treatment for tinnitus exists due to the high concentration of zinc in the cochlea, a cavity in the inner ear. However, further research into this offers mixed results.

Some older research, such as a 2003 study, suggests a potential benefit of zinc supplementation for individuals with tinnitus and low zinc levels.

A clinical trial from 2019 tested zinc supplementation in people with tinnitus associated with noise-induced hearing loss. They found that tinnitus handicap inventory scores improved after zinc supplementation, particularly in younger adults.

However, zinc did not affect hearing thresholds or tinnitus frequency and volume.

Similarly, a 2022 survey analysis suggests that zinc has no effect on tinnitus parameters.

More research is necessary to understand whether and how zinc supplementation can benefit people with tinnitus.

Zinc is an essential mineral, but taking excessive amounts of zinc can lead to zinc toxicity. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), high intakes of zinc may cause the following symptoms:

People should speak with a healthcare professional before taking zinc supplements to ensure they take the appropriate dosage and that the supplement suits their specific needs.

Some types of tinnitus, such as pulsatile tinnitus, have an objective cause that doctors can identify and treat. However, these types of tinnitus are rare and less common than subjective tinnitus without a clear cause.

The most effective treatment approach for subjective tinnitus may involve a combination of strategies. The NIH highlights the following potential treatment options:

  • Hearing aids: If tinnitus is due to age-related hearing loss, hearing aids may help by making external sounds louder and making the tinnitus less noticeable.
  • Sound therapy: Sound therapy aims to mask or reduce the perception of tinnitus by introducing background sounds, including white noise machines, fans, apps and devices that play soothing sounds like ocean waves, or tinnitus maskers that look like hearing aids.
  • Tinnitus retraining therapy (TRT): TRT combines sound therapy with counseling. The goal is to help people habituate to the sound of their tinnitus, making it less bothersome over time.
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT): CBT can help people with tinnitus manage the emotional distress and anxiety that may occur alongside the condition. It teaches coping strategies and relaxation techniques.
  • Medication: In some cases, medication may help manage tinnitus symptoms. This is typically when tinnitus is due to an underlying medical condition, such as anxiety or depression.

The NIH also highlights ongoing research into new treatment options, including various types of electric stimulation.

If someone has tinnitus, they should speak with a healthcare professional. A doctor may refer the person to a specialist, such as an ear, nose, and throat doctor, to determine the best treatment plan for them.

Healthcare professionals can help people understand whether tinnitus is due to an underlying medical condition and get them started on treatment to manage their symptoms.

Read on to learn the answers to some common questions about the relationship between zinc and tinnitus.

What supplement is best for tinnitus?

According to a 2021 review of pharmacotherapy for tinnitus, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved any medication or supplement to treat tinnitus.

Tinnitus can have various underlying causes, and the treatment that works for one person may not work for another, including different supplements.

Can a zinc deficiency cause a ringing in the ears?

A 2021 review associates zinc deficiencies with tinnitus and hearing loss due to inner ear damage. However, tinnitus is a complex condition with multiple potential causes, and not everyone with tinnitus will have a zinc deficiency.

Zinc is a mineral that plays an important role in many bodily functions, including immune support, wound healing, and maintaining the health of sensory organs, such as the ears.

Although some research suggests a link between zinc deficiencies and tinnitus, not everyone with tinnitus will benefit from zinc supplements, and there is no conclusive research from clinical trials.

People with tinnitus should speak with their doctor to determine whether the condition has an underlying cause and to discuss their treatment options.