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What Vitamin Deficiency Causes Ringing in the Ears?

vitamin deficiency
Ringing in the ears has been linked to vitamin B12 and vitamin D deficiencies

Tinnitus is a common problem that affects the inner ear. While many people describe it as a ringing in the ears, for some it may sound like high-pitched hissing, low-pitched roaring, chirping, screeching, buzzing or humming. 

These symptoms can be exacerbated during times of stress or fatigue and lead to frustration, irritability and depression. The noise may also cause insomnia.

Tinnitus has been linked to vitamin B12 and vitamin D deficiencies.

Vitamin B12

  • Vitamin B12 helps create myelin, which is the insulative and protective cover that surrounds the nerves. Vitamin B12 deficiency can irritate and hamper the function of nerves in the ear. 
  • Research studies have shown that people with tinnitus experienced improvement in symptoms after undergoing vitamin B12 supplemental therapy. 
  • Vitamin B12 can be found in foods such as meat, fish and dairy products; it can also be produced in a Lab. It is often taken in combination with other B vitamins.

Vitamin D

  • Vitamin D deficiency can cause poor bone health, including the internal ear bones
  • Vitamin D is found in dairy, fortified cereals and mushrooms and is mainly synthesized in the skin upon exposure to sunlight.

How can vitamin deficiencies be treated?

Vitamin B12

Symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency can be treated with vitamin B12 tablets or injections. There are two types of B12 injections:

  1. Hydroxocobalamin or vitamin B12a: This is a vitamin found in foods such as  meat, fish, eggs and milk and can be used as a dietary supplement. 
  2. Cyanocobalamin: This is a synthetic form of vitamin B12. Like hydroxocobalamin, it can be used to treat nutrient deficiencies in people who have difficulty getting enough vitamin B12 in their regular diets.

Low levels of vitamin B12 may be caused by:

  • Pernicious anemia, a condition where a person’s immune system mistakenly reduces their ability to absorb the vitamin.
  • Conditions affecting the stomach or intestines that interfere with the absorption of vitamin B12, such as malabsorption syndromes and tropical sprue.
  • Poor diet or lack of vitamins in the diet
  • Certain medications, such as metformin used for diabetes.
  • Excessive coffee drinking, smoking etc.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D can be taken as a capsule every week for three months, or administered intramuscularly.

What are treatment options for tinnitus?

There is no cure for tinnitus. However, treating an underlying cause (such as vitamin B12 deficiency) may help relieve tinnitus symptoms

Other possible treatment options include:

  • Acoustic therapy or sound therapy. Sound therapy involves the use of sounds to help the brain refocus and reduce the emotional distress caused by tinnitus.
  • Hearing aids. Even if there is no hearing loss present, hearing aids can be equipped with a tinnitus-masking feature to help block out noise and provide much-needed relief. These can be used in collaboration with hearing loss treatment as well.
  • Maskers. An electronic device called a masker may be worn to distract the wearer from the ringing sensation. Maskers fit in the ear similarly to hearing aids and produce low-level sounds. In addition to maskers, bedside sound generators and other devices can help eliminate the perception of ringing.
  • Tinnitus retraining therapy (TRT), also known as habituation therapy. This treatment combines sound therapy and counseling with the goal of retraining the brain to perceive tinnitus in a different way. The process alters the brain’s neural signals and weakens the perception of ringing.
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy. This type of counseling helps change the body’s emotional reaction to tinnitus by altering negative thought patterns and reducing stress.

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