Steroid injection won’t quiet ringing in the ears

Contrary to some previous reports, a new study suggests that people who suffer with severe, disabling ringing in the ears known as tinnitus are unlikely to find relief with steroid injections in the ringing ear.

The authors of the study think drug therapies directed to the central nervous system, retraining therapy, and masking strategies may be more promising avenues of treatment for troubling tinnitus.

Tinnitus is a common disorder, estimated to affect 36 million Americans.

It can arise from a number of causes, from ear wax build-up to medication side effects to hearing loss. For some people, the noise is persistent and bothersome enough to interfere with daily life.

In their study, researchers from Brazil randomly assigned 36 individuals with disabling tinnitus to receive middle-ear injections of either dexamethasone solution or inactive saline once a week for 4 weeks.

Steroid injections were no better than saline injections in relieving tinnitus, Dr. Mercedes F. S. Araujo and colleagues at the Brasilia University Medical School report in the medical journal Archives of Otolaryngology and Head and Neck Surgery.

Twenty-nine percent of ears in the saline group and 33 percent of ears in the steroid group improved with treatment.

Moreover, the ringing in the ears that had initially improved eventually returned to the same intensity as before treatment over the next month.

SOURCE: Archives of Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery, February 2005.

Provided by ArmMed Media
Revision date: June 22, 2011
Last revised: by Andrew G. Epstein, M.D.