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Niacin & Tinnitus

author image Mary McNally
Mary McNally has been writing and editing for over 13 years, including publications at Cornell University Press, Larson Publications and College Athletic Magazines. McNally also wrote and edited career and computer materials for Stanford University and Ithaca College. She holds a master's degree in career development from John F. Kennedy University and a bachelor's degree from Cornell University in counseling.
Niacin & Tinnitus
A doctor examining a woman's ear. Photo Credit: giorgiomtb1/iStock/Getty Images

Niacin is a vitamin and is used in higher dosages to lower high cholesterol levels, according to It has also been tried in the treatment of tinnitus in the past, but there is no clear data on its effectiveness. Tinnitus is a hearing impairment where ringing, clicking, roaring or hissing sounds are heard although there are no external sounds being produced in the local vicinity of the sufferer.

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Tinnitus may be caused by hearing loss, allergies, medications, high or low blood pressure, heart problems, tumors or loud noises. Awareness of the internal sounds in the ears can cause irritability, inability to sleep, trouble hearing and concentrating and an inability to work. A hearing aid or medications may be prescribed or a noise machine used to mask the sounds. While all of these can help, there is no permanent cure. The noises may recede only to reappear again.


Niacin can cause elevation of blood sugar levels in diabetics. It can also cause flushing on the face and neck, loss of appetite, stomach pain and headaches. While the Tinnitus News Daily reports that otolaryngologists used niacin combined with Dramamine to effectively treat tinnitus, there is no scientific evidence that it is effective. Niacin's more serious side effects, such as stomach pain, irregular heartbeat and yellow eyes or skin symptomatic of jaundice, indicate that further study is needed.

Nicotinamide Study

Niacin is also known as nicotinic acid and is related to the drug nicotinamide. J.H. Hulshof and P. Vermeij performed a small study with 48 subjects in 1987 to determine if nicotinamide was effective in treating the symptoms of tinnitus. The effects of nicotinamide were compared to those of a placebo. As reported in the June 1987 edition of "Clinical Otolaryngology and Allied Sciences," the researched found that Nicotinamide performed no better than the placebo.

Other Tinnitus Drugs

Drugs will not cure tinnitus, but may relieve some of its symptoms, says Anti-depressants such as amitriptyline and nortriptyline will help; however, they have significant side effects such as dry mouth, blurry vision, heart problems and constipation. Alprazolam has also been used to treat tinnitus; however, it is habit-forming and can cause drowsiness and vomiting.

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