Tinnitus and MS: An Annoying Combination

Tinnitus and MS: An Annoying Combination

Faith of the Mustard Seed

Loss of hearing symptoms such as tinnitus are not usually attributed to multiple sclerosis, but for those with MS who do experience tinnitus, like me, they can be very annoying.

The American Tinnitus Association (ATA) describes the symptoms as: “the perception of sound when no actual external noise is present. While it is commonly referred to as ‘ringing in the ears’, tinnitus can manifest many different perceptions of sound, including buzzing, hissing, whistling, swooshing, and clicking. In some rare cases, tinnitus patients report hearing music.”

From the ATA website I have learned there are two different types:

1. Subjective Tinnitus: Head or ear noises that are heard only by the patient. Subjective tinnitus is usually caused by auditory and neurological reactions to hearing loss, but can also be caused by other issues as well. More than 99% of all tinnitus cases are of the subjective variety.

2. Objective Tinnitus: Head or ear noises that are audible to other people, as well as the patient. These sounds are usually produced by internal functions in the body’s circulatory (blood flow) and somatic (musculo-skeletal movement) systems. Objective tinnitus is very rare, representing less than 1% of total tinnitus cases.

Tinnitus is considered a symptom, not a condition. Some of the underlying conditions that could be the cause of the tinnitus are exposure to loud noise, the aging process, or a range of health issues that includes damage to nerves in the brain stem that affect auditory functions. When consulting with your doctor it is important to have other potential causes of hearing loss ruled out. Examples could be excessive ear wax, ototoxic medicine, Ménière’s disease, and other illnesses or tumors.

Even though there is no cure for tinnitus, there are treatments that can help improve quality of life for those with this problem.

People have reported that their symptoms are worse with salt or caffeine, and many eliminate these from their diet.

Others say that singing, watching TV or listening to music helps.

Tinnitus re-training is also available to help tune out the noise.

In some cases, antidepressants are used to help alleviate it.

Since everyone’s condition is different, you should always consult your physician as to which course of action is best for you.

In my case, I experience tinnitus off and on; it is not a constant problem for me. When it does happen it is very annoying and affects my already shaky balance.

If you are affected by tinnitus in any way, please share what works to alleviate the symptoms for you.

Note: Multiple Sclerosis News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Multiple Sclerosis News Today, or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to multiple sclerosis.

36 comments

  1. Helen says:

    I was diagnosed with RRMS in 2009. I was also diagnosed with pulsating tinnitus and subjective tinnitus about 1 year ago. I had to have a CTA and regular brain MRI to rule out anything dangerous. The pulsating part went away; I think it was caused by one of my medications. My subjective tinnitus has continued. It is really irritating! They believe it is caused by some hearing loss in the high pitched ranges. A white noise machine helps at night. I am going to try Neuromonics soon. They now offer an “Alleviator” for mobile devices. I hope it helps!

    • Tim Bossie says:

      Thank you for the comment and sharing your experience with us Helen! We also hope that the neuromonics helps as well as the mobile device. Let us know!

  2. Libbie Frank says:

    Has anyone tried pycnogenol (dietary supplement) for tinnitus and did you notice a difference? I was thinking of trying it. I’ve had tinnitus for years,and usually I’m not aware of it, except at night when it’s quiet.

  3. Freya Koss says:

    Individuals who had developed tinnitus and Menier’s disease recovered after having their silver amalgam fillings removed by a dentist trained to safely remove them. Benjamin Zander’s,(conductor of the Boston Philharmonic Symphony) testimony to the FDA: Amalgam Filings and Menier’s Disease.

    • Tim Bossie says:

      Yes, that is something that has helped a few people and something for people to consider talking with their doctor about.

    • Those with Dental Amalgam or Silver Fillings or Gold will have a higher rate of heavy metals induced Tinnitus or the increased chances for the Hitler Phone bridge effect ie Psychotronics via the synergnic inter reaction of non Ionizing radiation v/s those with out. And the variation of induced Mental disorders misdiagnosed from the God effect of Schizoaffective disorders, Note even Post fact the 2013 Minamta Convention the fda or hhs et al still ignores the call to stop the use of Amalgam via the 50% Mercury based nero toxic metal

      Call your senators and demand the pending appointment Confirmation of the new Fcc Commissioners will enforce the sentiment of the 2013 Notice of Inquiry ET Docket 13-84. And thus submit its finding post 1975 and the church Committee for new bill to formally out law the use of Amalgam’s and set a new standard to help help those who have it not be mistreated as Mentally ill and those given the wrong treatment’s etc.

      1st Peter 2:16

      • Karen Wheeler says:

        Shelley,
        Once you have the metal fillings removed you have to use chelation to remove the heavy metals, specifically Mercury, from your system. The metals will not leave your body on their own. There are two products we have used to successfully remove the metals from our bodies after having metal fillings removed, Osumex and Zeolite Gold. You should be able to google those products to find a supply for yourself.
        I hope this helps you.

        Karen

  4. Karin says:

    I have had hyperaccusis, pulsatile tinnitus, middle ear myclonus and radom crackling buzzing noises in right ear for years now. My right cheek and eyelid will also twitch and tremor. OtoNeurologist says it is synkinesis of the 7th and 8th nerves caused by MS.

    • Tim Bossie says:

      Thank you for the comment Karin and sharing your experience. Is there anything that you are able to do now to help with the ringing and buzzing?

    • Judy Lynn says:

      Hi Karin,
      I’m curious about the term “OtoNeurologist”? I have eye twitches and drooping eyelid, as well as occasional complete loss of hearing in that ear. It passes. I’m wondering if this is a specific type of doc that I’m not aware of…

    • Mishal almutairi says:

      Hi Karen. I have developed a loud single thumping in me ears two months ago. It happens 2-10 times per day! Loud, jarring and adrenaline packed! I thought it is related to my muscle fasciculations. I have them alll day and for years! Have you any recommendations? this ear condition is a different beast. I hear ENT’s are clueless, right? I don’t think I have ms, neurologist don’t know what it is. Any advice? Thank you

      • Sue zambo says:

        My ear thumps whenever birds chirp. Just my left ear. It’s happened for years. I was diagnosed with Meniere’s over 20 years ago.

  5. Stephanie Ferguson says:

    I am currently in the process of a diagnosis for my symptoms but have episodes related to MS. When I do have an episode, which is once a month, I experience loud ringing in my right ear, swooshing sounds, which can drowned out any conversation I am engaged in. I also loose some hearing in my right ear which is no fun! I hope my Neuro doctor can help me!

    • Tim Bossie says:

      Thank you for the comment Stephanie… we at MSNews do hope that you are able to get a confirmed diagnosis – to at least get into some treatment to help you. The ringing and swooshing sounds are quite common, but doesn’t make coping with them any easier. Keep us posted.

  6. Lorna says:

    I got pulsatile tinnitus about a month ago. I went to Urgent Care, & they prescribed allergy & sinus meds, which did not help. I was talking to one of my non-MS friends about it, & lo and behold, she had had this too! She said that she tried different things, too, which didn’t help; then she saw an ENT, who put her on a course of steroids, & that worked. I happened to have an unused steroid pack in my medicine cabinet, so I took them. I’m happy to report that the tinnitus went away last week! Hopefully, it stays away ?

  7. Jo Maxwell says:

    Mine is very loud and 24/7. I was told several years ago that I had TMJ and needed braces. $5000 later I still have ringing in my ears. Just one of the many symptoms that were misdiagnosed before I was finally diagnosed with multiple sclerosis

    • Eva crone says:

      Hi, I’m so sorry to hear that. I also have very loud ringing 24/7 and was just diagnosed with MS. How long have you had the noise?

  8. Nancy G. says:

    For myself, I stumbled upon an effective treatment that reduces and eliminates my tinnitus as long as I take it regularly. When I first experienced tinnitus, it was so distracting and sometimes sounded like a train whistle going right through my head. I was miserable and really could not ignore it. I made an appointment with an ENT to rule out any type of ear infections, blockage, etc. Having passed all hearing tests and exams with flying colors, I accepted my neurologist’s diagnosis of it being related to my MS. Both doctors told me there was no effective treatment for this and trying anything over the counter would just waste my money. Being stubborn and going crazy from the noise, I still tried OTC remedies and of course, wasted my money 🙁 Then I had a major surgery and was put on the pain medication Tramadol HCL 50mg. I noticed that while I was taking this prescription during my recovery, my tinnitus all but disappeared. When I no longer needed it for my recovery, my tinnitus came back as loud as ever. Discussing this with both my GNP and my neurologist, I now continue the Tramadol just once a day and my tinnitus is under control. If I forget to take a pill, my ringing ears remind me loud and clear! I hope this will be encouraging for others to discuss this option with your doctors.

  9. Anabella Marcy says:

    I use aspirin when I get hit with pulsating in my left ear. I’ve also read that Vitamin B and zinc help. I wish everyone success in dealing with this annoying condition.

    • Karen says:

      I have relapsing remitting ms. About 6 months ago i developed a noise in my right ear…rather like a loud car engine idling outside. Driving me crazy. Got worse. Doctor declared it tinnitus. Nothing to be done. After speaking to someone in a health food store who recommended aspirin. By the third dose. Noise completely gone!! What a relief! I have to keep taking it or it comes back. I thought aspirin was a cause of tinnitus? ?? Would this be down to the ms do you think??

  10. Hello I’ve had ringing in my right ear for 2 years now after a bout of severe dizziness that lasted about a week. ENT told me I had BPPD(Benign Paroxysmal Position Disorder) I went thru 3 months of PT and the Epley maneuver treatment. Dizziness went away but ringing stayed. Then they told me they didn’t think it was BPPD but maybe Menneirs or “could be” from the MS. Neuro told me “yes, a lot of things are blamed on MS”… and that was it from him. I also have a cervicle spine condition called OPLL. I have fusion in pretty much whole neck with plates, bars, and screws. Ortho said he doubted ringing in ears is from that. I went to a cardiologist and had several tests and everything was fine (thank goodness) Have tried stopping salt and caffeine. Didn’t help. Looked at all my meds and didn’t see where any had this side effect. So I live with this constant subjective annoying ringing. Any ideas where to go next?!

  11. Tommy says:

    I have a brain injury and was prescribed Amantadine. I was wondering if it can cause ringing ears. I’ve been taking this for about 2 years but just recently noticed the ringing of ears.

  12. Melinda White says:

    I was diagnosed with MS in 1996 and it is stable/not severe. Ten years ago I started having ringing in the ears and later hearing loss. Now hearing loss in both ears is severe to profound; I wear hearing aids.

    After three ear doctors, neurologist and GP, no one has been able to tell me why. It is unfortunate that I have been the one to figure this out. I believe it was caused by numerous ototoxic drugs. One, amytripyline, which I have been on for nearly 30 years. Others include anti-histamines, pain relivers (asprin, NAS, etc.). I have recently stopped taking all that I can that have these side effects. We will see if I recovery any.

    There are no drugs that repair damage to inner ear, but there is one gene study currently taking place.

    Here is a helpful list of drugs, herbs that are ototoxic and can cause tinnitus.

    http://www.ata.org/sites/default/files/Drugs%20Associated%20with%20Tinnitus%202013_Updated2017.pdf

    I had mercury removed and chelation therapy right after my MS diagnosis. Hope this helps.

  13. Alec Moore says:

    I’ve suffered from tinnitus for about 8 years now and have tried almost every “remedy” or supposed “cure” on the market. The things that have worked for me are: reducing my salt intake, increasing my ginger intake, temple massages, the incorporation of white noise, and I started taking LipoFlavonoid supplement about 5 months ago. I saw an ad and thought to myself theres no way this works but they said give it 2 months and then decide. After 2 months there was a noticeable improvement in the ringing in my ears, so I’ve continued taking it. They’re still doing a 60 day money back challenge so it’s worth trying honestly, you never know with tinnitus what will work for you. You can get more info on that here https://lipoflavonoid.com/content/22-lipo-flavonoid-60-day-challenge

  14. Mike says:

    Hi,

    I don’t know if this will help anyone with tinnitus, but it helps a member of my family. I’m sure u probably already know this, but the article stated that if we know of any helpful suggestions that might help block the annoying sound of the tinnitus, to comment.

    Therefore, what helps them get a better night’s sleep, is having the air purifier on, because it gives the sound of white noise.

  15. Blake says:

    I never had tinnitus until about two 6 weeks ago after listening to pink noise with cheep ear phones to help me sleep,I woke up to ringing ears and there still ringing.I know every one will think I,m crazy but it really happened.

  16. tom hennessy says:

    One thing I find curious is increased red blood cells leads to tinnitus and increased red blood cells is accompanied always by increased viscosity of the blood, more blood, more viscous blood. So, since increased viscosity of the blood is a symptom of MS, could simple phlebotomy reduce the tinnitus?
    “26.2% of patients demonstrated an appreciable increase of blood viscosity”

  17. Flowers says:

    Hi, I’m in middle of a relapse, I have tinnitus on a low scale,some times worse than other.
    Because I’m having a relapse the tinnitus is extremely loud in my head. I’ve never contact it to the ms. But if I have a bad episode the tinnitus is always louder. Is it worth mentioning it to my neurologist? Or do I really want to throw anything else into the mix???

  18. Paul says:

    Hi, I’m in the middle of an episode at the moment. I have tinnitus normally, but when I’m having an episode it extremely loud. I know if I’m going to have a bad day it’s always louder.I’ve never connected the tinnitus with the ms before? I’ve been told in the past its nerve damage. But never connected the two. Don’t know weather it’s important to tell the neurologist? Or is it just something els to add to the mix???

    • Debi Wilson says:

      I’m sorry about your tinnitus! Definitely you should mention it to your neurologist! They may have some advice to help you and plus they should always know any symptoms you are experiencing. Take care, Debi

  19. Millie says:

    I have had ringing in both my ears since I was in my twenties I am now in my sixty’s and I have a loud wind blowing noise in my right ear a twitching in my right eye and face also drooping eyelid on right side as well this noise in my ear and Twiching is driving me crazy any ideas as to what is causing this

    • Debi Wilson says:

      That sounds terrible, Millie! Your doctor would have the best answers. Maybe, someone here has experienced this, and share what worked for them. Take care, Debi

  20. Joanne Short says:

    I was diagnosed with RRMS in 2001. About two years ago I came home after a particularly gruelling walk and was obviously exhausted. I lay down and noticed this high pitched ringing in my head that sounded like a machine was being operated inside and felt like severe pressure to the back of my head. After a sleep it subsided.
    The tinnitus as I assume is the cause, has continued to come back on and off ever since, and always comes on when I have overdone things, or had a big day out. The more I’ve pushed myself, the worse it gets and I often dont hear it till I’m home in the silence then I can’t imagine how I hadnt noticed its that bad.
    I’ve also started getting pusatile tinnitus, which is most definitely triggered from a particularly tiring day out.
    The whole family went to the football on Saturday and our seats were in the hot direct sun. I had to keep going down into the breezeway and splashing water on my head. I also copped some really loud shouting right beside my head from my over excited partner and at the time it was like white hot pain shot through the whole side of my head. I felt traumatised by the intensity and had to immediately go sit in the shade and hold my head and I just cried it was so awful.
    Naturally when we got home later I noticed the pulsatile tinnitus was off the charts bad! After a nights sleep the pulsatile part settled down but now 2 days later I still have constant high pitched tinnitus and my balance is all off again. I also feel so exhausted that I’ve spent 2 days barely functioning.
    I was on baclofen for 9 months and that made my tinnitus worse and my balance was unbelievably bad. I didn’t equate the tinnitus with the woeful balance but now I’m off baclofen both the tinnitus and the balance had improved. I’ve also been doing physio and hydro which had made a huge improvement to my balance. Now I’m swaggering all over the place after the footy episode and feeling very frustrated.
    The tinnitus started before the baclofen so it wasnt caused by that. I’ve had an MRI to rule out a tumour, just had bloods to rule out thyroid and anaemia. The fact it comes on after being very active makes me believe it is MS related. I really hope I dont end up with permanent hearing loss, I am already borderline legally blind due to cataracts at birth.
    Anyway just thought I’d tell my story so others might take note of whether their tinnitus is worse, or starts pulsating after too much physical activity.

    • Bonnie says:

      I can completely relate to your story! I had my diagnosis that same year and I also had an experience very like your recent one about 5 years ago and it was a milestone in my ms that signaled a massive deterioration in my condition. I had already had tinnitus, but the exacerbation that I had around that time included an increase in that as well. It’s about the same time that I started a couple of new meds for other symptoms, so I never new which worsened the tinnitus; the meds or the ms. I am pretty sure it was the ms. I hope your other symptoms don’t worsen also and that you recover soon, but it sounds like your ms is very heat sensitive, which is common. Did your mri show any activity of lesions in your brain or spinal cord? If so, has your neuro suggested a short course of steroid to speed your recovery? It’s pretty nasty stuff, but it can work amazingly well. I have also found that simple acetaminophen can help with the tinnitus. I was in an Alpha Lipoic Acid study for 2 years and learned that it not only helped with my balance and vision, but it reduced my tinnitus and also made my skin, hair and nails much healthier. It’s cheap and harmless, too. Good luck to you!

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