Tinnitus ("Tin-EYE-tus") is a symptom characterized by an auditory perception of noise - or ringing - in the ears. However, patients also describe the noise as hissing, pulsing, whooshing, clicking, or similar sounds in the ear. It is estimated that worldwide over 100 million adults are affected by tinnitus. It can disturb their daily lives with hearing loss, long-term sleep disturbances, changes in cognitive ability, challenges in employability and relationships, and it can cause depression. Although anyone can get tinnitus, tinnitus induced hearing loss is the number one service related disability for veterans costing the US government over $2.26 billion in compensation.
While the exact causes of tinnitus and consequent hearing loss are not clear, the most likely cause can be either a one-time or a continuous exposure to loud noises, which destroys the hair cells in the inner ear. Damaged hair cells are difficult to renew or replace. Tinnitus can also result from blockages in the ear canal from earwax or abnormal bone growth, anemia, high blood pressure, and blood vessel disorders, stress, head and neck injuries, or a benign tumor called acoustic neuroma. Over 200 medications including some antibiotics, painkillers, diuretics, and chemotherapy drugs are known to cause hearing and balance problems as side effects. As the root cause of tinnitus is largely unknown, there is no effective tinnitus treatment available within conventional medicine. Tinnitus induced hearing loss is mainly managed by hearing devices with less than satisfactory results.
Inflammation and oxidative damage to the cells lining the ear canal and the inner ear is one of the patho-mechanisms of tinnitus. Moreover, the micronutrients such as vitamin C and E, glutathione, the B group of vitamins, coenzyme-Q-10, magnesium, and others are known to protect various structures of the normal auditory apparatus.
Therefore, we conducted a pilot clinical trial to study the effect of a combination of micronutrients in patients suffering from tinnitus*. The patients were 44 to 85 years old and had been suffering from tinnitus for more than three consecutive months. They all took a specifically designed micronutrient supplement. After four months of being on the micronutrient supplement program, 30% of the patients reported slight improvement in their hearing and 45% reported a clear improvement of 10-20 decibels. Twenty-five percent of the patients indicated a strong hearing improvement of up to 25-50 decibels, and a return of their normal hearing ability. More than 75% of the patients experienced some reduction in the ear ringing and for half of the patients the ear ringing almost completely disappeared.
Exposure to loud or continuous noise is a very common phenomenon in our modern society and most people are unaware of the long-term hearing implications. In addition to protecting the ears by avoiding noise exposure, wearing earplugs, and limiting the use of ear damaging medications, our studies show that supplementation with the micronutrients may provide relief to millions of people from tinnitus induced hearing loss.
Ref: Cellular Health Communication, Vol 1, No. 1, 2001