Lidocaine helps relieve
ringing in the ears
May 19, 2000 NEW YORK (Reuters Health)
Severe tinnitus--or "ringing in the
ear"--is a common but difficult-to-treat problem. Study results
suggest that injections of the local anesthetic lidocaine
help the problem in most patients. In their report, presented
at the recent American Otological Society meeting in Orlando,
Florida, Drs. John J. Shea and Xianxi Ge of the Shea Ear Clinic
in Memphis, Tennessee, said that injections of lidocaine both
into the ear and intravenously, repeated on three consecutive
days, resulted in partial or complete relief of tinnitus in
70% of patients.
The lidocaine treatment "has increased
effectiveness...almost all patients get immediate relief,"
Shea told Reuters Health in a telephone interview. One month
following treatment, 70% of the patients report complete or
partial relief of tinnitus, Shea noted. The cause of tinnitus
is unknown, but it is thought to be due to disorders affecting
tiny "hair" cells in the inner ear, or affecting the nerve
pathways between the inner ear and the brain.
Tinnitus can be associated with hearing
loss. It is also associated with diseases such as Meniere's
disease. The ringing can be high-pitched (sounding like a
"hissing" or "whistling") or low-pitched (described as "buzzing"
or "swishing" sounds). Patients with tinnitus deriving from
conditions involving disturbed hair cells such as Meniere's
disease, positional vertigo and aspirin intake, as well as
those with hearing loss, respond well to the lidocaine treatment
regimen. The researchers report no loss of hearing and no
negative side effects from the treatment. "Most patients with
tinnitus are also depressed," Shea said. In such cases, "treatment
for both (conditions) is the only way to treat tinnitus effect.