Can antidepressants cause ringing in the ears? If so, what can I do about it?

Answer From Daniel K. Hall-Flavin, M.D.

Many medicines, including some medicines to treat depression, also called antidepressants, can cause ringing in the ears. Ringing in the ears is also known as tinnitus. Not all antidepressants cause tinnitus. If your antidepressant is causing your ears to ring, switching to a different drug may help the issue. But don't stop taking any of your drugs without talking to your health care provider.

Antidepressants cause ringing in the ears less often than other types of medicines. Other types of drugs that can cause ringing in the ears are aspirin, anti-inflammatory drugs or some antibiotics. Some health conditions are also more likely to cause ringing in the ears.

People who smoke are more likely to have ringing in the ears than nonsmokers.

Other causes of tinnitus include:

  • Long time periods with exposure to loud noises.
  • Blood vessel conditions.
  • Diabetes.
  • Allergies.
  • Age-related hearing loss.
  • Wax buildup in the ear.

Caffeine has long been thought of as a possible cause of ringing in the ears. But some research has found that higher amounts of caffeine may be related to a lower risk of tinnitus in some people. This area needs more study.

Work with your health care provider to see if your antidepressant or something else is causing your ears to ring. Your symptoms may go away when you treat the cause.

If the cause isn't clear or treatment doesn't help, a device similar to a hearing aid might help cover the ringing. A change in medicine, a visit with a counselor or some methods to help you relax also may help you deal with the ringing.

From Mayo Clinic to your inbox

Sign up for free, and stay up to date on research advancements, health tips and current health topics, like COVID-19, plus expertise on managing health.

To provide you with the most relevant and helpful information, and understand which information is beneficial, we may combine your email and website usage information with other information we have about you. If you are a Mayo Clinic patient, this could include protected health information. If we combine this information with your protected health information, we will treat all of that information as protected health information and will only use or disclose that information as set forth in our notice of privacy practices. You may opt-out of email communications at any time by clicking on the unsubscribe link in the e-mail.

Nov. 02, 2022 See more Expert Answers