Tinnitus is noise in the ear when there is no outside sound. The most common is ringing. Some people hear clicking, buzzing, or roaring. If the noise is loud and lasting enough, it can affect hearing, sleep, or quality of life.
Care depends on the cause of the noise. Many times, it may be unknown. Changing medicine or cleaning out the ear canal can be helpful for some people. If these don’t work, masking the noise or using a hearing aid may help. Medicines are generally not useful for treating tinnitus.
- Acupuncture —fine needles are inserted at specific points to improve the flow of Qi (a form of “vital energy”).A1-A2
- Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) —Exposure to low frequency magnetic pulses.B1-B2
- Hyperbaric oxygen —100% oxygen is delivered to the lungs while in a special chamberC1
Editorial process and description of evidence categories can be found at EBSCO NAT Editorial Process.
Herbs and Supplements to Be Used With Caution
Talk to your doctor about all herbs or supplements you are taking. Some may interact with your treatment plan or health conditions.
A1. A1. Kim JI, Choi JY, Lee DH, Choi TY, Lee MS, Ernst E. Acupuncture for the treatment of tinnitus: a systematic review of randomized clinical trials. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2012;12:97.
A2. Liu F, Han X, Li Y, Yu S. Acupuncture in the treatment of tinnitus: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Eur Arch Otorhinolaryngol. 2016;273(2):285-294.
Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (rTMS)
B1. Plewnia C, Vonthein R, Wasserka B, et al. Treatment of chronic tinnitus with θ burst stimulation: a randomized controlled trial. Neurology. 2012;78(21):1628-1634.
B2. Meng Z, Liu S, Zheng Y, Phillips JS. Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation for tinnitus. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2011;(10):CD007946.
C1. Bennett MH, Kertesz T, Perleth M, Yeung P, Lehm JP. Hyperbaric oxygen for idiopathic sudden sensorineural hearing loss and tinnitus. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2012;10:CD004739.
D1. Hilton MP, Zimmermann EF, Hunt WT. Ginkgo biloba for tinnitus. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2013;(3):CD003852.
E1. Person OC, Puga ME, da Silva EM, Torloni MR. Zinc supplementation for tinnitus. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2016;11:CD009832.
Last reviewed March 2019 by EBSCO NAT Review Board
Richard Glickman-Simon, MD
Last Updated: 3/2/2019