Understanding Tinnitus: Tinnitus, characterized by persistent sounds like ringing or buzzing in the ears, is a symptom of various underlying health issues, not a standalone disease. It ranges from mild to severe, impacting daily life and mental well-being.
Hearing Loss and Cognitive Decline: There's a significant connection between hearing loss and cognitive decline. Hearing loss, often associated with tinnitus, can lead to social isolation and increased cognitive load, contributing to faster cognitive decline. Regular hearing check-ups and potential use of hearing aids are essential.
Cure for Tinnitus: While there's no universal cure for tinnitus, treatments like sound therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, and lifestyle changes can manage symptoms. Understanding and addressing underlying causes are crucial.
CBD and Tinnitus: Contrary to popular belief, there is no conclusive evidence supporting CBD as an effective treatment for tinnitus. Some studies suggest CBD might even exacerbate tinnitus symptoms, especially in the presence of hearing damage.
Natural Alternatives and Caution: While natural alternatives like hemp seed oil are explored for tinnitus relief, their efficacy is not scientifically proven. It’s important to consult healthcare professionals before trying any new treatment, including over-the-counter CBD products.
What is Tinnitus?
Tinnitus is one of many hearing disorders, often characterized by a persistent buzzing sound or ringing in one or both ears. It's not a singular disease but rather a symptom indicative of various underlying health issues. The experience of tinnitus can range from a mild annoyance to a severe ringing in the ears that disrupts daily life, affecting concentration, sleep, and emotional well-being.
The sounds heard by those with tinnitus are diverse: some describe it as ringing, while others experience it as hissing, roaring, or even clicking. These sounds may be constant or intermittent, and can vary in pitch and intensity. Tinnitus primarily falls into two categories: subjective and objective. Subjective tinnitus, the more common form, is audible only to the patient. Objective tinnitus, rarer and often caused by vascular or muscular factors, can be heard by others, including physicians during an examination.
What are The Causes of Tinnitus?
Tinnitus is caused by a variety of things. One of the most common ones is age-related hearing loss. Exposure to loud noises can also trigger or make tinnitus worse, making it a common problem among veterans and those working on heavy machinery. Other potential causes include earwax blockage, ototoxic medications, ear infections, and various conditions like Meniere’s disease or TMJ disorders.
Tinnitus may also impact quality of life. Because of the continuous ringing sound, some people feel stressed and develop anxiety, that can led to sleep issues and difficulties concentrating.
Hearing Loss & Cognitive Decline: What’s the Connection?
Hearing loss, often linked with tinnitus, is not just an isolated auditory issue; it also plays a role in cognitive decline and neurological disorders. This connection is crucial to understand, especially as hearing loss is a common condition among older adults. The relationship between hearing loss and cognitive decline indicates the importance of routine hearing care. Healthy hearing should be a goal at any age, and issues even simple issues like ringing in your ears should be addressed promptly and effectively.
What Does Science Say?
Individuals with hearing loss may experience a faster rate of cognitive decline compared to those with normal hearing. There are studies regarding the use of cannabis, but, as we mentioned, results are mixed.
For example, a study that tracked 639 adults for nearly 12 years found that mildhearing loss doubled dementia risk, moderate loss tripled risk, and severe hearing impairment increased the risk fivefold.Brain scans have shown that hearing loss may contribute to a faster rate of atrophy in the brain, and hearing loss also contributes to social isolation, which may contribute to dementia.
Another study published in JAMA Internal Medicine found that individuals with hearing loss had a 24% increased risk for incident cognitive impairment compared to those with normal hearing, and rates of cognitive decline and the risk for incident cognitive impairment were linearly associated with the degree of hearing loss.
Compared to those with normal hearing, individuals with hearing loss at baseline had a 24% (hazard ratio, 1.24; 95% CI, 1.05-1.48) increased risk for incident cognitive impairment. Rates of cognitive decline and the risk for incident cognitive impairment were linearly associated with the severity of an individual's baseline hearing loss. (JAMA Intern Med. 2013;173(4):293-299)
A 2023 paper published in Lancet indicate that using hearing aids to treat hearing loss may help slow cognitive decline in older people.
The hearing intervention did not reduce 3-year cognitive decline in the primary analysis of the total cohort. However, a prespecified sensitivity analysis showed that the effect differed between the two study populations that comprised the cohort. These findings suggest that a hearing intervention might reduce cognitive change over 3 years in populations of older adults at increased risk for cognitive decline but not in populations at decreased risk for cognitive decline. (Lancet. 2023 Sep 2;402(10404):786-797)
Tinnitus, hearing loss and social consequences
Hearing loss can lead to social isolation and loneliness, which are known risk factors for cognitive decline. Moreover, the increased cognitive load required to understand speech in the presence of hearing loss can overtax the brain, potentially impairing its ability to perform other cognitive functions. It's like multi-tasking, you can't too too many things at once, and you cannot do them well either!
The impact of hearing loss on cognitive decline is a compelling reason to prioritize hearing health. Regular hearing check-ups are essential for a timely diagnosis and treatment. There are different ways to check your hearing health, and you should pass any test to make sure that you are not in at higher risk for cognitive decline.
In summary, the connection between hearing loss and cognitive decline emphasizes the need for early diagnosis and comprehensive treatment strategies. This includes addressing tinnitus, which can be a significant contributor to hearing health challenges.
What really stops tinnitus?
One of the easiest way to address tinnitus is identifying and treating the underlying cause.
Earwax buildup and Tinnitus
The simplest cause could be earwax buildup, earwax removal may stop the ringing. When earwax accumulates, it can put pressure on the nerves that run through the ear canal and cause this ringing sensation.
Earwax plays an important role in ear health as it cleans the ears and protects them from dust, dirt, and infection. However, some people naturally produce more earwax than others, leading to a buildup that can cause symptoms such as ear pain, itchiness, tinnitus, dizziness, and hearing loss.
If left untreated, earwax buildup can lead to permanent damage, resulting in chronic tinnitus. The auditory system may overcompensate for the loss of hearing due to earwax buildup and fabricate noises that do not exist. In most cases, removing the earwax buildup can immediately alleviate tinnitus.
Tinnitus as a side effect from medication
Similarly, changing medications that cause tinnitus as a side effect can effectively eliminate the symptom. There are several medications that can cause tinnitus, however, while these medications can cause it, it is usually a rare side effect. Here are some of the medications known to cause tinnitus:
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs): These include aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen, diclofenac, and others. High doses and long-term use of these medications are associated with tinnitus
Certain antibiotics: This includes aminoglycoside antibiotics, macrolide antibiotics, and others like clarithromycin, ciprofloxacin, and tetracycline
Antidepressants: Both newer SSRIs (like Prozac, Zoloft, Lexapro) and older tricyclic antidepressants (like Amitriptyline or Doxepin) can cause tinnitus
Analgesics: High-dose aspirin, acetaminophen (Tylenol), and other pain relievers can cause tinnitus
In cases where hearing loss is identified as the primary cause, using hearing aids can significantly improve tinnitus symptoms by amplifying external sounds, thus masking the internal ringing.
Sound therapy is another effective treatment for tinnitus. This involves the use of external noises to partially or completely mask the sound of the tinnitus. White noise machines, specialized ear devices, or even music therapy can be used in sound therapy.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is also widely recognized for managing tinnitus. CBT helps patients alter their perception of tinnitus, thereby reducing its impact on their quality of life.
Lifestyle changes for Tinnitus
Lifestyle changes, such as stress management and relaxation techniques, play a crucial role in tinnitus treatment. Since stress often exacerbates tinnitus symptoms, activities like yoga, meditation, or exercise can be beneficial. Moreover, protecting ears from loud noises and maintaining good cardiovascular health are essential preventive measures.
In summary, while there is no single 'cure' for tinnitus, a combination of treatments tailored to the individual's specific causes and symptoms can be highly effective in stopping or at least significantly reducing the severity of tinnitus. It's important for tinnitus patients to consult with healthcare professionals to develop a comprehensive treatment plan.
Can You Treat Tinnitus with CBD? ....Not So Fast!
CBD has various therapeutic properties, however, its effectiveness in treating tinnitus is a subject of debate.
Some Used to Treat it with CBD, but Is It a Good Idea?
Cannabidiol, known as CBD, has been tested for tinnitus, but results are limited and have mixed results. While some anecdotal reports suggest that if you take CBD, you may get some help wth tinnitus, scientific evidence supporting these claims is scarce. In fact, research suggests that CBD, when used in conjunction with THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), could potentially exacerbate tinnitus rather than alleviate it.
One critical aspect to consider is the mechanism of action of CBD and its interaction with the auditory system. Tinnitus is believed to be linked to neuronal hyperactivity in auditory areas of the brain, and while CBD has shown some promise in neuroprotective and anti-inflammatory roles, its direct impact on auditory pathways remains unclear.
Furthermore, CBD will interact with cannabinoid receptors, specifically CB1 and CB2 receptors. The endocannabinoid system plays a role in balance and hearing, yet the exact relationship between these receptors and tinnitus is not well understood.
What Does Science Say about CBD and Tinnitus?
The intersection of CBD (cannabidiol) and tinnitus treatment has garnered significant attention in the scientific community. Various studies have sought to understand whether CBD, a compound found in the cannabis plant, can be an effective remedy for tinnitus symptoms. Let's delve into what recent scientific research reveals about this topic.
Study on CBD's Impact on Tinnitus in Rats: A notable study conducted in 2015 focused on the the use of THC and CBD to treat lab rats. This research, crucial in the discourse of CBD and tinnitus, revealed that a combination of CBD and THC could potentially exacerbate tinnitus symptoms, particularly in cases of pre-existing hearing damage. The study highlighted the need for caution when considering cannabinoids for tinnitus treatment, as the results suggested that cannabinoids might promote the development of tinnitus under certain conditions.
Literature Review on Cannabinoids and Tinnitus: A comprehensive literature review conducted in 2020 explored the use of cannabinoids, including CBD, for alleviating tinnitus. The review concluded that there is no compelling evidence from either animal or human studies supporting the use of cannabinoids for tinnitus relief. This review emphasized that cannabinoid receptor agonists do not decrease tinnitus, and there is a lack of conclusive evidence to recommend CBD as a tinnitus remedy.
Study on Cannabis Use and Tinnitus in Older Adults: Another significant study conducted in 2022 investigated the effects of medical cannabis use, comprising CBD and THC, on older adults. Interestingly, this study reported that a small percentage of participants experienced tinnitus as a side effect of cannabis use. This finding suggests a potential link between cannabis use and the exacerbation of tinnitus symptoms.
In summary, current scientific research does not support CBD as an effective treatment for tinnitus. Instead, the studies point to a complex relationship between cannabinoids and tinnitus, with potential risks of worsening the condition. The scientific consensus, as of now, urges caution and further research to fully understand the impact of CBD and other cannabinoids on tinnitus.
Can CBD oil worsen tinnitus?
Studies exploring the effects of cannabinoids, including CBD and THC, on tinnitus have yielded mixed results. Some research indicates that products containing CBD may have a potential role in neurological and hearing health due to its interaction with cannabinoid receptors in the brain, which are believed to play a role in balance and hearing. However, concrete evidence supporting the beneficial effects of CBD or other cannabis products on tinnitus is scarce.
Is there a natural way to stop tinnitus? How About Hemp Seed Oil?
This brings us to the discussion of hemp seed oil. Hemp seed oil is still a product derived from the cannabis plant, similar to marijuana plants, but has lower levels of tetrahydrocannabinol, often less than the legal limit of 0.3%.
Hemp seed oil is rich in nutrients such as omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. It is used for its various health benefits, but the potential role in balance and hearing is not clear. While some anecdotal reports suggest that hemp seed oil may help alleviate tinnitus symptoms, these claims lack substantial scientific backing.
Hemp seed oil, like any natural remedy, should be approached with caution. Those considering hemp seed oil for tinnitus should consult with a healthcare professional to ensure it does not interact with any medications they are taking and to discuss its potential effectiveness for their specific case of tinnitus.
It’s crucial to address the broader picture of tinnitus management. Lifestyle changes, such as reducing exposure to loud noises, managing stress, and maintaining good cardiovascular health, play a significant role in tinnitus treatment. These natural approaches can complement other treatments and help manage tinnitus more effectively.
In conclusion, while hemp seed oil may offer some benefits, its role in treating tinnitus is not well-established. Tinnitus sufferers should prioritize a comprehensive treatment plan that includes lifestyle modifications and professional medical advice, rather than solely relying on over-the-counter products like hemp seed oil.
FAQs on Tinnitus and CBD:
Can I use CBD products to help with tinnitus?
Can CBD help with tinnitus? Research suggests that CBD will not help manage tinnitus. There is no evidence that CBD can help alleviate the symptoms of tinnitus.
Is CBD available as a treatment for tinnitus?
While there is ongoing research regarding the use of CBD for treating tinnitus, over-the-counter CBD products are available, but it's important to determine if CBD is suitable for individual cases.
There is no evidence to suggest that CBD will exacerbate tinnitus. However, it’s important to consult a healthcare professional to determine the best approach for addressing tinnitus symptoms.
Does cannabis, or CBD, help with hearing problems?
Some studies suggest that CBD may have an effect on receptors in the dorsal cochlear nucleus (DCN), a region in the ear that helps transmit sound information between the inner ear and the brain. This could potentially increase tinnitus. However, this relationship is not well studied.
Does the FDA regulate CBD?
The FDA doesn't regulate CBD products, so it’s important to use CBD from reputable sources and consult a healthcare professional before trying CBD for tinnitus relief.
Is CBD still being researched for tinnitus relief?
There is ongoing research and evidence that CBD may help with tinnitus. It’s important to stay informed about the latest developments in CBD and tinnitus treatment.
I've been trying CBD, does it interact with other medications?
Yes, CBD can interact with other medications. It can affect the way certain drugs are metabolized by the body and may increase or decrease the effects of these medications. It is important to consult with a healthcare professional before using CBD especially if you are taking other medications to avoid any potential negative interactions.
Seb has been a research scientist for the past two decades and is the founder and owner of My Blissful Pet. Seb grew up with cats and dogs and married his passion for science and animals with My Blissful Pet by wanting to help dogs and cats live healthier lives.