My Ear Is Buzzing
The most common medications used to reduce tinnitus are benzodiazepines. Benzodiazepines and other anti-anxiety medications selectively reduce anxiety in the central nervous system. Because of the phenomenon of "hyper-awareness," it is often beneficial to reduce excitatory activity in the brain and the central nervous system. Anti-anxiety medications often succeed in reducing the volume and stress of tinnitus.
Xanax is a commonly prescribed drug for tinnitus sufferers. In a recent double blind placebo study, 76 percent of individuals using Xanax experienced over 40 percent reduction of volume in their tinnitus. Unfortunately, Xanax does not normally completely eliminate tinnitus. It does succeed in volume and stress reduction for most people, however.
Some people have discovered side effects of Xanax that they don't like. Some of these common side effects (more than one in 20 people may be affected) include blurred vision, change in sex drive, constipation, drowsiness, dry mouth, fatigue, and headache.
These are all fairly rare side effects. Xanax is generally one of the safest medications a person will ever take. The one real side effect of Xanax/alprazolam is grogginess. And, it's important to note that you MUST be in a reduced state of arousal to get well. Xanax will accomplish that.
It should be noted that when Xanax is used for tinnitus, it is normally prescribed in very small doses. Generally medical doctors will begin a prescription at .25 mg per dose, three times daily. Over a period of two or three weeks they will increase the dose to .5 mg per dose three times daily. Once this level is maintained for 4 to 10 weeks, the patient can expect reduction and relief to begin, if it is going to.
When eliminating Xanax as a treatment modality, it is best to gradually reduce dosages. Your doctor will explain to you the best reduction program for you. Never simply stop taking Xanax or any benzodiazepine. Xanax can be habituating (similar to addiction) in some, but certainly not all, people. In the dosages mentioned here, I haven't worked with anyone who became addicted to Xanax. BUT, for people who take 6-8 milligrams per day, I have seen addiction.
Please do not take more than 2.5 mg per day without one heck of a good reason. For 3/4 of people, 1.5 mg. per day is sufficient. For heavier set people of say 200 pounds or more, 2.0 mg. per day makes sense.
Medications in this class of drugs that have fared best are Serax and KIonopin. One controlled study by Dr. Abraham Shulman reported that Serax reduced tinnitus volume in 52 percent of patients. Klonopin was effective in 69 percent (virtually identical to the Xanax results). Other medications in this family of drugs that seem to be useful in treating tinnitus include Ativan, Traxene, and Valium.
Anti-convulsants have been prescribed for tinnitus for many years. Normally these medications are used to prevent seizures, but because of actions of these medications within the brain, large numbers of people with tinnitus have reported improvement from their use. Anti-convulsants work by selectively reducing excessive stimulation in the brain.
Interestingly, they can be effective in reducing tinnitus volume and provide relief, as well. Tegretol, or KIonopin are frequently prescribed for tinnitus sufferers. This family of drugs is among the original pharmacological interventions for tinnitus sufferers. It is interesting to note that about 80 percent of people who have nearly all of their tinnitus eliminated from lidocaine infusions also experience very significant volume reduction with Tegretol.
Who should use Klonopin, or the other anti-epileptic/convulsants? People whose tinnitus fluctuates in volume from day to day seem to benefit more from Klonopin than those with other tinnitus experiences.
As far as Tegretol is concerned, I'm not a big fan. My experience is that it produces mixed results. Most medical doctors will start a patient with 100mg. of Tegretol per day and slowly work up to 500 to 2,000 mg. per day. The smallest dosage that reduces volume would be optimal. There are side effects to Tegretol, which can be significant deterrents for some people. Talk to your medical practitioner.
One study with Primidone reported 27 percent experienced almost complete tinnitus elimination. Another 59 percent reported significant relief (20 to 80 percent volume reduction). Those are pretty impressive numbers and you should have that information available to you when you communicate with your doctor. To learn more, you can check out My Ear Is Buzzing.