In this blog post, we are going to talk about lexapro induced tinnitus and what could be done to get rid of it. We will also discuss some underlying health conditions and the use of certain medications along with lexapro that can make your tinnitus much worse.
Does lexapro cause tinnitus?
A survey revealed that lexapro has a potential of causing tinnitus, but this side effect is rare. Some people have reported it just after 3 weeks of treatment with lexapro.
Mild side effects usually begin to subside within 2 to 3 weeks of treatment, but severe tinnitus can lead to the discontinuation of treatment in order to get rid of it, for good.
Lexapro is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI). This class of antidepressants inhibit the reuptake of serotonin from synaptic cleft. This increased amount of serotonin, which is an excitatory neurotransmitter, has multiple effects on your body and brain.
It can cause hyperactivity of nerve cells which support hearing and can make you feel like you’re constantly listening to some ringing, ticking, clicking or buzzing etc.
In some cases, tinnitus begins as a symptom of lexapro withdrawal after stopping this antidepressant abruptly. It is also seen in people who tapered off lexapro after a long duration of treatment.
How do you know you’re suffering from tinnitus?
Tinnitus is characterised as a sensation of ringing ears. You hear some kind of a sound in your ears like ringing, ticking, clicking, buzzing or whistling.
You could either hear them continuously or after short intervals. This condition gets pretty disturbing when you’re trying to sleep in a silent, peaceful room. Tinnitus affects a lot of people annually. It has different causes and different severity levels.
It could be a symptom of some underlying health condition or a side effect of certain medication. Drugs which cause tinnitus, hearing loss or different ear/hearing related side effects are known as ototoxic drugs.
What could be done to get rid of tinnitus?
There are a few you can do to help relieve the symptoms of tinnitus. These include:
Talk to your doctor
The first thing to do is to let your doctor know about your side effects. If it is mild, it is usually advised to not do anything about it as it will begin to subside on its own. If it’s not, then your doctor looks forward to making a move.
The first approach to get rid of tinnitus is to stop using the culprit medicine, which in this case is lexapro. If your tinnitus causes serious difficulty, it most likely indicates that your antidepressant doesn’t suit you and it’s time to change it.
After discontinuation of depression treatment with lexapro, tinnitus begins to subside within 2 to 3 weeks. Make sure you taper off lexapro properly in order to avoid withdrawal symptoms.
Noise cancelling devices
It is difficult to treat tinnitus itself. The best approach is to deal with the underlying condition that causes it in the first place, but your doctor may recommend some noise cancelling device to tone down ringing in your ears.
This really helps to relieve some of the symptoms and irritability that comes with them..
Get your earwax removed
You can try removing your earwax. Clearing up your ears can sometimes reduce the symptoms of tinnitus, as the built-up wax adds pressure to your ear canal and makes you hear unwanted rigning sounds.
Therapies for tinnitus
There are no known medications to treat tinnitus but several therapies are available to help reduce the symptoms.
For people who can’t seem to get away with it, therapies like Tinnitus retraining therapy (TRT) and Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) are used to learn how to cope with tinnitus.
Cut back on excessive caffeine and alcohol
Make sure you don’t use any such thing that can contribute to your tinnitus. Limit the intake of alcohol and caffeine, as they can have an impact on your already existing tinnitus.
Other medications that might cause tinnitus
Tinnitus could be a side effect of your lexapro but use of some other medications are more common causes of tinnitus. Such meds include:
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS)
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and aspirin can cause tinnitus. This is more common when you’re taking a high dose of these drugs.
Do not use these for a longer period of time as they not only cause ototoxicity but can also cause several other side effects like gastric pain, diarrhoea, acid reflux, etc. They are also not recommended to use concomitantly with lexapro, as the combination may increase the risk of bleeding.
Antibiotics are antibacterial agents which are used to treat moderate to severe kinds of bacterial infections. These agents are known to cause tinnitus, including azithromycin, tobramycin, clarithromycin, gentamicin, streptomycin etc.
These drugs are well known for producing ototoxicity, hepatotoxicity and nephrotoxicity. Fluoroquinolones (moxifloxacin, levofloxacin, ciprofloxacin) can also cause tinnitus.
High ceiling loop diuretics
Diuretics are used to remove excess sodium and water from your body. This class of diuretics include the most commonly used med, furosemide (lasix). They can cause tinnitus and loss of hearing.
Beta-blockers are antihypertensives. They are also used to manage cardiac activity in patients with coronary artery diseases (CAD). These agents are also known to produce tinnitus or ringing in the ears.
Make sure you’re not using any one of the above mentioned drugs along with lexapro, which might enhance your tinnitus. Always talk to your healthcare provider if you have to take multiple medications at the same time. Some medications are incompatible with one another.
They cancel out each other’s beneficial effects and cause even more side effects. Drug-drug interaction is a serious issue. It’s better to check if your medicines are safe to take concomitantly.
Some health conditions and factors which can contribute to your tinnitus
Following health conditions can either cause or make your existing tinnitus even more worse:
Ear infections can make you hear ringing in your ears. The infection usually causes buildup of pus or fluid in your ear canal which blocks it. The blockage creates pressure and you start experiencing the symptoms of tinnitus.
In some cases, the accumulation of earwax can block ear canals which can result in tinnitus. This is exactly why it is recommended to opt for suitable earwax removal techniques which might help relieve the symptoms of tinnitus.
Age has a great impact on the occurrence of tinnitus. Geriatric population is more susceptible to lexapro induced tinnitus, and tinnitus in general, because their tiny hair cells, which are important to receive sound waves, are either broken or damaged. This causes tinnitus.
Brain injuries can often cause tinnitus by damaging nerves which are linked to the function of ears. Neck or direct ear injuries can also make you hear a constant ringing in your ears. This most commonly happens when some injury damages your eardrums.
When to call your doctor
Reach out to your healthcare provider if:
- You keep hearing loud ringing, buzzing or ticking in your ears.
- You feel some kind of pain or pressure in your ears
- You stay up all night because of your tinnitus symptoms
- You feel like your hearing ability is declining
- You get fever with chills
- You experience burning sensation tight after taking your lexapro.
- You experience unexplained weight gain or loss
- You experience any other unusual side effects.
Other side effects of lexapro to look out for
Common side effects of lexapro include:
- Loss of appetite
- Constipation or diarrhoea
- Sexual issues
- Difficulty in falling asleep
- Decreased salivation or dry mouth
- Sleepiness and fatigue
- Weight gain
In this blog, we learned about lexapro induced tinnitus. Tinnitus is characterised as a sensation of ringing ears. You hear some kind of a sound in your ears like ringing, ticking, clicking, buzzing or whistling. You could either hear them continuously or after short intervals.
Lexapro induced tinnitus, if mild, usually goes away in 3 to 4 weeks of treatment. For some people, it can take much longer, up to 4 to 5 months, but extreme ringing in the ears indicates that you need to stop your antidepressant as it’s not the right choice for you.
Common side effects are expected from antidepressant treatment but if it is disabling, it indicates you need to switch to another medication. In case of tinnitus, it gradually starts to fade away after discontinuing the treatment with lexapro.
Make sure you don’t stop your med cold turkey. You need to follow a proper taper schedule to avoid withdrawal symptoms.
FAQs: lexapro tinnitus
Will Lexapro help tinnitus?
There is not much research data available to prove the potential role of lexapro in the treatment of tinnitus associated with mental health conditions. However, tinnitus has been known as a side effect of lexapro in some people.
Does SSRI induced tinnitus go away?
SSRIs induced tinnitus start to go away within 2 to 3 weeks, if it is mild and manageable. Severe tinnitus require discontinuation of treatment to go away, for good.
Which antidepressants may worsen tinnitus?
Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are known to cause tinnitus and make existing tinnitus worse. Make sure you ask your doctor if it’s safe for you to use any member of the SSRI family.
Which antidepressant is best for tinnitus?
Tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs) can be used to help relieve the symptoms of tinnitus in people suffering from mental health conditions associated with ringing in the ears. Some studies indicate that SSRIs might also be used, but the results are inconclusive.
Can too much serotonin cause tinnitus?
Studies suggest that too much serotonin may be responsible for causing ototoxicity and hence produce the symptoms of tinnitus.
Why do SSRIs cause tinnitus?
Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors or SSRIs are the class of antidepressants which inhibits the reuptake of serotonin from synaptic cleft. This increased amount of serotonin, which is an excitatory neurotransmitter, has multiple effects on your body and brain.
It can cause hyperactivity of nerve cells which support hearing and can make you feel like you’re constantly listening to some ringing, ticking, or buzzing etc.
- American Academy Of Audiology – SSRI and Tinnitus https://www.audiology.org/ssri-and-tinnitus/
- Robert L Folmer et al. Ear Nose Throat J. (2004) – SSRI use by tinnitus patients: interactions between depression and tinnitus severity https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15008444/
- Jane Clewes, MA – A Case Report of Onset of Tinnitus Following Discontinuation of Antidepressant and a Review of the Literature https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3357564/
- R N Golden et al. Arch Intern Med. (1994) – Antidepressants and tinnitus https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/8002694/
- Zheng-Quan Tang, Laurence O. Trussell (2017) – Serotonergic Modulation of Sensory Representation in a Central Multisensory Circuit Is Pathway Specific https://www.cell.com/cell-reports/fulltext/S2211-1247(17)31098-7?_returnURL=https%3A%2F%2Flinkinghub.elsevier.com%2Fretrieve%2Fpii%2FS2211124717310987%3Fshowall%3Dtrue