Article

Zinc as a possible treatment for tinnitus

Department of Otolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery, The University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA, USA.
Progress in brain research (Impact Factor: 5.1). 02/2007; 166:279-85. DOI: 10.1016/S0079-6123(07)66026-9
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Zinc is an essential trace element present in all organs, tissues, fluids, and secretions of the body and it is widely distributed in the central nervous system, including the auditory pathway in synapses of the VIII nerve and in the cochlea. Zinc is an essential component of Cu/Zn superoxide dismutase (SOD) and in certain enzymes and it is important for proper function of the immune system. Three possible mechanisms have linked zinc to tinnitus; cochlear Cu/Zn SOD activity, synaptic transmission, and depression. Evidences in the literature suggest prevalence rates of zinc deficiency in individuals with tinnitus from 2 to 69%, affecting elderly individuals more frequently. Four among five small studies indicate that administration of zinc has a beneficial effect on tinnitus but these results still have to be confirmed in clinical trials with larger samples using a cross-over design, validated tinnitus handicap questionnaires, measurements of tinnitus magnitude, and accessing the coexistence of other symptoms such as depression, phonophobia, and hyperacusis.

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    • "Following is a discussion of each of the Tinnitus Formula ingredients to determine if any of them are effective treatments for tinnitus. Several studies assert that tinnitus patients might have lower-than-recommended blood levels of zinc (Ochi et al, 2003; Coelho et al, 2007). However, few placebo-controlled studies of zinc for tinnitus have been conducted. "
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    ABSTRACT: Background: Because chronic tinnitus is a condition that negatively impacts the quality of life of millions of people worldwide, a safe and effective treatment for tinnitus has been sought for millennia. However, effective treatments for tinnitus are greatly outnumbered by ineffective strategies, medications, devices, and surgeries that continue to be developed and promoted for the condition. Purpose: This article describes and critiques experimental, controversial, and potential treatments for chronic tinnitus. The purpose of this review is to provide information that should help patients and clinicians to select tinnitus treatment and management strategies most likely to be effective for each set of symptoms and circumstances. Research Design: PubMed and MEDLINE databases (National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine) were searched for the term tinnitus in articles published from 1940 to 2012. Other historical documents and publications were also reviewed as needed for particular topics. Study Sample: Studies included in this review were selected to represent a sampling of treatment methodologies that have been used for tinnitus. Data Collection and Analysis: Due to the heterogeneity of the studies reviewed, it was not appropriate to perform a meta-analysis. A selective review of the literature was conducted to summarize and critique published research results. Results: Most invasive treatments for tinnitus should be avoided because (1) at best, there is scant evidence that any of these treatments is effective, and (2) the risk to patients for most invasive procedures is much greater than the risk posed by the tinnitus perception. Effective and noninvasive treatments for tinnitus include acoustic therapy (which includes hearing aids and other types of environmental sound enrichment); cognitive-behavioral therapy; psychological counseling; hypnosis; biofeedback; and relaxation training. Over-the-counter or prescription medications may be used as needed to facilitate sleep and to reduce anxiety, depression, or obsessive-compulsiveness. Conclusions: Patients and clinicians should be especially cautious when considering invasive (and potentially harmful) treatments for tinnitus, which is a non-life-threatening symptom. Unless well-designed clinical trials verify that a tinnitus therapy demonstrates effectiveness above and beyond the placebo effect, consumers should be wary of medications, devices, or procedures promoted as a "cure." Although a true cure for tinnitus has not yet been found, effective and noninvasive tinnitus management strategies are available now. If progress is made to medically (or genetically) treat sensorineural hearing loss in humans, this breakthrough should also help to simultaneously reduce the perception of tinnitus for many patients.
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    01/2009; 8(1):1–12. DOI:10.1016/S1639-870X(09)70163-1
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