Is Tinnitus from Omeprazole Permanent? No, It Isn’t. You Can Manage it

Do you experience ringing sounds in their ears without any external source? Are those sounds vary from a mild hum to violent screeching. If yes, then you are perhaps got Tinnitus.

Doctors cannot identify most of the time the exact cause of tinnitus. But the factors which aggravate and alleviate tinnitus are mostly understood. One of the factors that can cause tinnitus to worsen is Omeprazole.

Omeprazole is linked to causing the tinnitus to worsen. But what is the cause of this? Should people with tinnitus avoid Omeprazole? Is Tinnitus from Omeprazole permanent? 

This article will discuss all the ototoxic drugs like Omeprazole that can cause tinnitus to flare up. So let’s begin.

is tinnitus from omeprazole permanent
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

Does Omeprazole Cause Tinnitus? 

The correlation between omeprazole and development tinnitus has not yet been established. But Omeprazole and other PPI or Proton Pump Inhibitors are considered to be ototoxic drugs. That means they are potentially harmful to the ear and the auditory apparatus.

As a  result, there might be the chance that Omeprazole can cause tinnitus due to toxicity to the auditory system. 

Again, in the case of chronic tinnitus patients, Omeprazole can make the existing tinnitus worse. Intake of Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPI). So it is possible that taking omeprazole may lead to worsening tinnitus.

Taking omeprazole may cause tinnitus in some people. But in most cases, it is reversed as soon as the medication is stopped. 

However, if the person had chronic tinnitus before taking omeprazole, then the medication may cause tinnitus to become permanent.

If you see that tinnitus is getting worse, stop taking the medication and report to your doctor immediately.

How does Omeprazole Cause Tinnitus?

The exact mechanisms of how omeprazole or other ototoxic drugs cause tinnitus is still unknown. It is theorized that these drugs cause biochemical and electrophysiological changes that affect the auditory mechanism of the ear.

There are over 400 prescriptions and over-the-counter drugs that are reported to cause tinnitus. These drugs cover a huge number of different categories, from painkillers to anti-cancer medications. 

Thus, the mechanisms of these drugs and the effect they have on the body are also quite varied. Along with it, answering the query about ‘Is Tinnitus from Omeprazole Permanent’ also became complicated. 

The most plausible explanation is that these drugs cause disturbances in the bioelectric potential of the inner ear. This may be caused by biochemical and enzymatic activity due to the effect of the drug. 

The change in the natural potential hampers the function of the cochlea and the eighth cranial nerve. This ultimately may lead to tinnitus or hearing loss.

Omeprazole is a type of Proton Pump Inhibitor or PPI. These drugs work by reducing gastric secretions by inhibiting the secretion of hydrogen ions into the gastric lumen. However, the enzymes related to this mechanism are also responsible for maintaining the inner ear potential. 

As a result, intake of PPI may inhibit the action of these enzymes leading to hearing loss and tinnitus. Thus there may be a correlation between PPIs and Tinnitus.

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What are Ototoxic Drugs?

An ototoxic drug is a drug that can cause temporary or permanent damage to the ear. These are drugs that tend to have some side effects related to hearing or balance. These may include tinnitus, hyperacusis, phantom sounds, hearing loss, etc.

An ototoxic drug has a toxic effect on the ear or its nerve supply. This effect can be temporary or permanent depending on the type or dosage of the drug. 

There are over 400 drugs that have been reported to cause hearing problems. Some of the more common ototoxic drugs are NSAIDs, aminoglycosides, tricyclic antidepressants, anti-anxiety meds, antimalarial meds, chemotherapy drugs (including cisplatin).

What Other Drugs Can Cause Tinnitus?

Tinnitus can be observed as a side effect of a drug in very rare cases. Most people will not experience any hearing-related issues while taking these medications. 

But some drugs do cause Tinnitus. They are only prescribed for the management of severe illnesses. 

Ototoxicity is considerably uncomfortable but is not life-threatening. So these drugs are only used in cases where the benefits outweigh the side effects.

Here are some drugs which may cause Tinnitus:

Aspirin

Aspirin and other Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs)can cause tinnitus or hearing loss in excessively high doses. These effects are usually temporary; they subside as soon as the medication is stopped. 

However, this is no cause for alarm. Aspirin taken in low doses for headaches or those suffering from heart problems is safe. There is no possibility of such low doses causing tinnitus or any other ototoxic side effects. 

There may be very few people who are hypersensitive to Aspirin. For these people, even very low doses of Aspirin may cause tinnitus. In such cases, alternative medication is prescribed.

Alprazolam

Benzodiazepines such as Alprazolam, Diazepam, and Lorazepam are medications that are prescribed for anxiety. These drugs do not have any direct correlation with tinnitus. Rather the withdrawal of these drugs is known to cause ringing in the ears as a side-effect. 

To prevent tinnitus from benzodiazepine withdrawal, the dosage is gradually reduced over a few months. This lets the body slowly adjust to the change, avoiding unwanted symptoms.

Alprazolam is less concerning than asking ‘Is Tinnitus from Omeprazole Permanent.’

Aminoglycoside Antibiotics

Aminoglycosides are a group of very powerful antibiotic drugs. The drugs most commonly used from this class are Streptomycin and Gentamicin. These drugs are not available in pill or oral form. They are directly injected intravenously in cases of severe or life-threatening circumstances. 

Aminoglycosides are ototoxic. It means they cause damage to the ear and are associated with hearing loss. Damage to hearing only occurs if these drugs are at high levels in the bloodstream. That is why after administration, these drugs are closely monitored by blood tests. 

Tricyclic Antidepressants

Tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs) are a family of drugs used to treat clinical depression, anxiety, migraines, pain, etc. TCAs include drugs like Amitriptyline and Nortriptyline. 

These drugs are known to cause hearing disturbances and tinnitus. Several studies have found that Amitriptyline is responsible for causing tinnitus in patients who have been prescribed the medication for depression.

Along with TCAs, Specific Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) are other antidepressants that cause tinnitus and hearing problems. There are reports that SSRIs may potentially cause tinnitus or make existing tinnitus worse.

Loop Diuretics

Loop diuretics are drugs that stimulate the production of urine. They are commonly used to treat hypertension, heart disorders, and kidney diseases. 

These drugs are ototoxic in high doses over a prolonged period. Small and controlled doses to treat hypertension do not cause any hearing problems and are considered safe.

Antimalarial Drugs

Antimalarial drugs like quinine, chloroquine, and hydroxychloroquine cause damage to the ear and tinnitus. 

The ototoxic effect of these drugs is usually seen if they are taken in very high doses. These drugs may also cause permanent hearing loss.

Is Tinnitus from Omeprazole Permanent?  

So far in this article, we have described the correlation between Omeprazole intake and the development of tinnitus. 

Tinnitus may be developed as a temporary side-effect of Omeprazole. We have also discussed the chances of tinnitus being permanent. 

Physicians can’t determine most of the time the exact cause of tinnitus for an individual. The symptoms of chronic tinnitus also manifest over a long period. So early diagnosis is also difficult. 

If your hearing is already affected by some auditory condition, the likelihood of developing tinnitus is much higher. Again, common risk factors like obesity, high blood pressure, poor diet, etc., contribute to GERD (Gastroesophageal Reflux Disorder) and tinnitus. In such cases, taking PPIs like Omeprazole to treat GERD further complicates the underlying tinnitus.

In extreme cases, if a person’s hearing has already deteriorated significantly, taking Omeprazole or other ototoxic drugs can lead to irreversible ear damage and permanent tinnitus.

How to manage Tinnitus

Tinnitus can be prevented if some precautions are taken. As most cases of tinnitus are caused by some sort of hearing deficiency, being aware can help prevent tinnitus.  

Though Tinnitus may not be completely preventable, its occurrence can be delayed, or its severity may be reduced.

First and foremost, use hearing protection. If your occupation involves loud noises or heavy machinery, always use over-the-ear headsets. Try to avoid staying in loud environments for extended periods. 

Don’t listen to music at excessively loud volumes, and during concerts, don’t stand too close to the speakers. 

Take care of your health. Uncontrolled blood pressure or cardiovascular diseases are risk factors of Tinnitus. Eat healthily, take adequate exercise, and proper rest. Taking care of your heart and circulatory system will also help you to prevent Tinnitus.

7 More Ways to Control Tinnitus

Avoid alcohol, caffeine, and nicotine. Drinking and smoking are factors that aggravate tinnitus. So try to avoid alcohol and quit smoking if you don’t want to worry about ‘Is Tinnitus from Omeprazole Permanent.’

If you are taking ototoxic drugs, which may lead to tinnitus, try to manage the underlying problem. If you are taking Omeprazole for GERD, try to manage the causes of acid reflux. Some steps you can take to prevent acid reflux are: avoid overeating, avoid foods that cause gastric irritation, lose excess weight, try to sleep with an empty stomach, sleep keeping your head elevated, avoid coffee, tea, soft drinks, and foods that contain caffeine. 

Similarly, if you are taking some form of ototoxic drugs for anxiety, depression, etc., look for ways to combat the problem at the source. Ask your physician to change your medication if you find that your tinnitus is getting worse. 

Some supplements are also available in the market that can help prevent tinnitus. These aim to provide your body with the essential nutrients that help maintain ear health and hearing. Check out our review of Tinnitus 911 for more details.

FAQ

Does acid reflux cause tinnitus?

GERD or acid reflux does not cause tinnitus. However, studies have shown that GERD may be responsible for causing hearing loss.

Does Omeprazole tinnitus go away?

In case of tinnitus caused by taking Omeprazole, stopping the drug should revert the tinnitus. However, this depends on the underlying cause and other predisposing factors of tinnitus.

Is drug-induced tinnitus permanent?

Some ototoxic drugs can cause severe damage to the auditory system if taken in excessive doses over a prolonged period. In these cases, the damage may be permanent and irreversible. 

If these drugs and no preventive measures cause tinnitus are taken, the tinnitus may become permanent.

What should I do if my meds are causing tinnitus?

If you are on medication for any serious illness, do not stop or change your meds. Talk to your doctor if you are facing any unpleasant side effects.

Your doctor will choose the drugs best suited to your treatment. Sometimes that means taking medicines that cause side effects if the doctor believes the benefits outweigh the discomforts.

Conclusion

To sum up, the use of Omeprazole may cause tinnitus. In the end, you are left with the decision. If tinnitus doesn’t bother you, you can continue to take your medication for the disease it was prescribed for. 

Otherwise, if your tinnitus is something you simply can’t endure, you may look for alternative medication or another form of treatment entirely. 

Hopefully, this article has answered your questions regarding ‘Is Tinnitus from Omeprazole Permanent.’ Following the advice described above, you can beat tinnitus and go back to living a noise-free life.

As a doctor in the making, I feel fascinated by the advancements and expansion of medical science. This fuels my passion for trying to follow a health-conscious lifestyle. I love writing and sharing thoughts and ideas with the people I care about. If my work can reach out and help people to enjoy a healthy, happy life it will be an honor for me. Muhtasim Munir MBBS (3rd year) Armed Forces Medical College

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