Could medication be the reason for my worsened tinnitus ?

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I have been on amitriptyline for a few years (25mg per day) for back pain. I had tinnitus but it was subtle and never lasted very long. And it never was a problem to fall asleep or live normally either.

I recently went through a bad patch and my gp increased my dose of amitriptyline to 50mg about 4 weeks ago. Also, I was given diazepam (2mg to 6mg in the evening depending on level of anxiety) and zopiclone (7.5mg in the evening) in the past 4 weeks.

I went off diazepam 2 days ago. I did not experience any unpleasant side effects on the first day/night of withdrawal. I also stopped zopiclone yesterday evening (did not take any).

Upon taking my amitriptyline last night, after a couple of hours, my tinnitus went louder but I managed to go to sleep. However, I woke up at 03:30 this morning and could not go back to sleep as the tinnitus was so loud. It was driving me crazy. It has remained loud until now (ie for the past 15hours).

I am starting to wonder if the higher dose (25mg -> 50mg) of amitriptyline could be the reason for this crazy level of tinnitus? Some people also mention tinnitus from zopiclone/diazepan withdrawal, however I am not sure this applies to me...

Has anybody suffered from similar experience with amitriptyline? If so, would reducing amitriptyline help? How quickly would the tinnitus be reduced?

How do you manage the symptoms of tinnitus to sleep?


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  • Posted

    Tinnitus is not too well understood is it.

    However, when I read of your medications and that they were 'overlapping' for a while leads me to assume that in respect of the tinnitus its as likely the combination of them as it is to be just one.

    My wife is a long term sufferer of tinnitus. The interesting points in her case is that its usually worse getting up in the morning first thing at its loudest and most annoying. I have it intermittently at a mild level.

    Like others with the problem its at its least or 'gone' when my wife is busy, occupied, particularly if that includes physically busy so incorporating mind and physical together. It can still be annoying if for example she likes to do words search and other moderate puzzles.

    Because of this I can see that its brain activity in respect of the hormones that affect our senses (obvious) that adrenalin, perhaps cortisol related.

    Getting up in the morning is when the melatonin (sleep hormone) has fallen to its lowest ebb, and replaced by rises in adrenalin such as cortisol which peaks to wake us.

    My thoughts are that its quite possible that excess cortisol production may be at the back of tinnitus but complexed by those hormones responsible for concentration issues such as dopamine, human growth hormone (HGH), serotonin and Pregnenolone which works from cholesterol which is a mood boosting hormone.

    For me its a balance issue between these likely at the back of tinnitus.

    I put this reply to you as an expression of my personal thoughts on the subject of tinnitus purely for interest in case you can see if it connects with your situation and 'food for thought'. I am not a professional in medicine but hope for more research to be conducted in this area. Regards. Chris.

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    • Posted


      Thank you so much for replying. It's heartening to see support on this forum. Your mentioning of cortisol is interesting as I was given zopiclone and diazepam (along with an increase of amitriptyline) to help me cope eith prednisolone side effects so you could be onto something. Fyi I stopped prednidolone 1 week ago after completing a 5 week coutse (including tapering).

      After one sleepness night (no sleeping at all) my thinking has evolved and i now believe zopiclone withdrawal could be the culprit...

      I need to work with gp to do some tests in order to identify which drug is the issue...

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    • Posted

      Yes withdrawal is something not to be ignored as it can occur many days after .

      As your meds connect with such sensitivities I would think it likely a withdrawal issue. It also shows how close we can be with other issues developing (the tinnitus) perhaps directly from taking meds primarily for something else.

      I wish you well.

      Regards, Chris.

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    • Posted

      For the record (it may help others) I have done some experiment on myself yesterday and found out:

      • Amitriptyline is the culprit for my tinnitus - it makes it worse within 1h of taking amitriptyline at 18:30
      • taking 1.5 tablets (5.6mg) of zopiclone 1.5h after amitriptyline reduced the tinnitus within 30-45min to a much bearable level where I can sleep
      • the 2mg valium taken yesterday morning had no impact on the tinnitus

      My conclusions/plan:

      1. Reduce amitriptyline to 25mg straight away - hopefully the tinnitus will gradually reduce
      2. Taper zopiclone by 0.9mg (a quarter) say every week to slowly retrain the GABA neurotransmitters
      3. Cold turkey stop the 2mg valium

        I should be weaned off zopiclone/valium in 6 weeks time (I hope!) without any significant withdrawal symptoms (I hope!)...

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