If you're exposed to an overwhelming sound, like loud music at a concert, you might leave with your ears ringing. This is a sign that your ears have been essentially overworked and possibly damaged. A condition called tinnitus is characterized by a ringing in the ears and can become very serious. There's no defined cure, but three of the B vitamins may help. Always speak to your health care provider before you start taking vitamin supplements.
How Tinnitus Starts
Your ear is an incredibly delicate and intricate part of your body. Inside your ear canal, you have little hairs that help you turn noises into sound. As noise enters your ear, it ruffles these little hairs quickly. Each time the hair moves it sends a signal to your brain. The faster they move, the higher the frequency of the sound.
These hairs are delicate and can be damaged by overwhelming sound. If they're damaged, you can develop tinnitus. Constant exposure to loud noise is just one of many causes of tinnitus, but it's the most preventable.
Living With Tinnitus
According to the American Tinnitus Association, about 15 percent of the U.S. population has some form of tinnitus. Almost half of those people experience constant symptoms, which can interfere with daily life and disrupt sleep.
In some cases, tinnitus can be so severe that it causes anxiety and depression, according to an article from ENT Health. There are a few surgical options that may work, but if that makes you squeamish, you can try taking a few B vitamins.
Vitamin B and Tinnitus
Research goes back and forth on whether taking B vitamins will help with tinnitus. As long as you're not taking toxic doses of the vitamin and can afford to spend a little money on supplements, they're worth a shot.
Vitamin B1 may help to stabilize the nerves of the inner ear. Patients who have reported improvements in their tinnitus while taking B1 usually take doses between 100 and 500 milligrams daily. To get that much of the vitamin, you should take it in pill form.
Vitamin B3, also called niacin, may help with tinnitus. There's no clinical evidence, according to an article from StopTheRinging.org, a site for people with tinnitus. There's anecdotal evidence that B3 helps when taken at 50 milligrams per day.
Vitamin B12 Might Help
A 2016 study published in Noise Health suggests that there's a correlation between vitamin B12 deficiency and tinnitus. When study participants started taking the vitamin, their symptoms decreased. However, this was a pilot study, meaning more studies need to be conducted before there can be concrete results.
On the other hand, a study from the Royal Belgian Society for ENT found that vitamin B12 supplementation only improved hearing at 250 hertz, which is a relatively low frequency. Otherwise, the study found no positive effects from a B12 supplement.
Other Potential Cures?
Other compounds like zinc, ginkgo biloba and omega-3 fatty acids have been explored as potential cures. However, there are no useful vitamins for ears ringing other than vitamin B.
Since it's such a widespread problem, a cure as simple as taking a vitamin or mineral would probably have been thoroughly explored by now. The evidence is spotty enough that these simple cures, like B vitamins, aren't currently recommended. However, they help some people and could be useful.
- American Tinnitus Association: Understanding the Facts
- ENT Health: Tinnitus
- Noise Health: Therapeutic Role of Vitamin B12 in Patients of Chronic Tinnitus: A Pilot Study
- B-ENT: Vitamin B12 Levels in Patients With Tinnitus and Effectiveness of Vitamin B12 Treatment on Hearing Threshold and Tinnitus
- StopTheRinging.org: Vitamins for Tinnitus Prevention: Which Ones Should I Take?