Tinnitus and Alcohol – A Devil or An Angel?

Is There a Connection between Alcohol and Tinnitus?

What exactly is the relationship between Tinnitus and Alcohol. Research has shown that alcohol can have both a good effect and a bad effect on tinnitus. Researchers at the Welsh Hearing Institute, University Hospital of Wales, UK, questioned a 100 chronic tinnitus sufferers about their alcohol drinking and tinnitus.

Doctors asked :

  • How much do you drink during a week?
  • Did it make your tinnitus better / worse/ no difference?.
  • Do you drink more because of tinnitus?
  • What type of alcohol do you drink?

The results were very interesting

  • 22% of the sample reporting that drinking worsened tinnitus
  • 62% reporting no effect of alcohol on tinnitus
  • 16% reporting that alcohol improved tinnitus

The type of alcohol did not make a difference.Beer, Wine and liquor all had the same effects

Patients’ reports of the effect of alcohol on tinnitus.
Pugh R, Budd RJ, Stephens SD.Welsh Hearing Institute, University Hospital of Wales. UK. www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8838550

Researchers have found that alcohol is not a cause of tinnitus, but it can make it worse.

Drinking Alcohol can worsen Tinnitus

Tinnitus and Alcohol - does drinking help or harm tinnitus patients

Tinnitus and Alcohol – does alcohol help or harm tinnitus sufferers? (pic credit – wikipedia)

How does alcohol make tinnitus worse? Alcohol makes your blood vessels swell. This swelling causes more blood to flow. Increased blood flow in the inner ear is a known cause of pulsatile tinnitus.

There are other reasons that alcohol can make tinnitus worse:

Most drinking is done in bars and clubs. These are often very noisy environments. Loud noise does make your tinnitus worse. A lot of people still smoke when drinking. Nicotine is also known to worsen tinnitus. You can get nicotine even by breathing in other peoples smoke. It is believed that when combined, alcohol and nicotine together have a worse effect on tinnitus than alcohol on its own

Excessive drinking leads to poor control and awareness. You might not realize how noisy your environment really is

Tinnitus and Alcohol Withdrawl

Many alcoholics who have quit drinking have found that alcohol withdrawal can cause tinnitus. This type of tinnitus is usually improves after a short time

Benefits of Alcohol on Tinnitus

As the survey showed 16% said that the tinnitus improved after drinking.
How can it be good and bad?

Tinnitus is just a symptom of many conditions. If stress or high blood pressure are the problem then moderate drinking could help you relax and lower your blood pressure. Simply been able to relax can help distract your mind from the noises. If drinking does help then you should try other therapies such as:

  • Yoga – Provides relaxation and stress relief from tinnitus
  • Tinnitus retraining – This uses tonal music to distract your mind from the noises. It does not remove the noise but makes you less aware of it.
  • Tinnitus Masker – A device that plays white noise or natural sounds intended to mask the ringing in the ears

Tinnitus can be very stressful and affect many parts of your life. It may be tempting to use alcohol to self medicate.You should never drink excessively to block out the tinnitus. This can lead to far worse health issues.

If you are suffering depression from your tinnitus then you should avoid alcohol.

So should you stop drinking if you have tinnitus?

Try not drinking for a while. Keep a diary about your tinnitus. Was there any change? Have you noticed the tinnitus more? Has the level of noise increased? Have the noises changed?

If your have always enjoyed a drink and your doctor is not concerned about your drinking then no. Do not let your tinnitus control your life. Remember 62% reported no effect from drinking alcohol.

So should you start drinking if you have tinnitus?

We would never recommend someone starts drinking as a tinnitus treatment. However if you decide to drink:

  • Always talk to your doctor or pharmacist first to make sure the alcohol will not effect any of your current medications.
  • Always drink moderately.

Doctors recommend one drink a day for women and two a day for men.

Examples of one drink :

Beer: 12 fluid ounces (355 milliliters)
Wine: 5 fluid ounces (148 milliliters)
Distilled spirits (80 proof): 1.5 fluid ounces (44 milliliters)

Alcohol and Tinnitus

Alcohol can have both a good effect and a bad effect on tinnitus. It varies from person to person. Many things can cause or worsen tinnitus. There are very few cures. Most treatments help lessen the effects. Its important to find out which tinnitus treatments give you the best quality of life and what helps you cope best with your tinnitus.

Filed under Tinnitus and Alcohol

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