Are you experiencing tinnitus, commonly known as ‘ringing in the ears’ during perimenopause or menopause?
It is widely accepted that tinnitus is most prevalent among the elderly and in women in their 40s, 50s and 60s. However, there appears to be differing opinions about whether tinnitus can be linked to perimenopause or whether it is more an age related problem. Although more research needs to be carried out, there is evidence to support that fluctuating hormones and HRT can cause or worsen ringing in the ears.
Perimenopause is the time when a woman’s hormones start to fluctuate thus beginning the transition to menopause. The word ‘peri’ means ‘around or about’, therefore, if you are in perimenopause you are ‘around or about menopause’. In other words, you are approaching it but you are not there yet. Experts state that perimenopause can be anywhere between 2-10 years before your final menstruation, at which time you have reached menopause and entered the post menopause stage.
What Causes Tinnitus in Perimenopause/Menopause?
- Menstrual bleeding (PMS /irregular periods) can exacerbate ringing in the ears.
- HRT specifically the synthetic progestin used in combination with estrogens may possibly exacerbate this symptom.
- Other theories postulate that side effects of HRT experienced by some women such as fluid retention, depression, headache, dizziness, insomnia and blood pressure changes could be the cause of worsening ringing in the ears.
- A review posted at eHealthMe.com compiled the details on side effects from 69,299 Premarin users of whom 0.5% have reported tinnitus as a side effect. The incidence increases dramatically with the number of years on Premarin and no one reported a recovery.
- Research in the last decade has increased our awareness of hormones acting on the central and peripheral nerves. Low estradiol, for instance, may be responsible for confusion in the transmitting of sound signals from the ear to the brain, possibly resulting in ringing in the ears.
- Nutritional deficiencies of B vitamins, zinc, folic acid and antioxidants are all crucial for maintaining the overall health of women and may bring on or worsen an existing condition.
Other Causes of Tinnitus
- Associated with hypothyroidism and heart disease
- Anti-depressants (Prozac, Benzodiazepines)
- Aspirin and quinine
- Some antibiotics
- Some Chemotherapy drugs
- Certain diuretics
- Meniere’s Disease (a condition that causes hearing loss and vertigo)
- Otosclerosis (inherited abnormal bone growth in the middle ear causing hearing loss)
According to nhs.uk around one in every three people with tinnitus doesn’t have any obvious problems with their ears or hearing.
Symptoms of Tinnitus in Perimenopause/Menopause
The severity can vary from a mild annoyance to significantly disturbing.
- Ringing sounds
- Buzzing sounds
- Whooshing sounds
- Clicking sounds
- Swishing sounds
- Loss of hearing
What Are The Treatment Options?
- Cognitive behavioural therapy
- Auditory stimulation
- Neuro feedback
- White sound therapy or hearing aids to mask the noise. White noise machines may also help to cope with insomnia caused by this condition
- Drug therapies are not effective at treating this condition but are often prescribed to treat anxiety, depression or sleep deprivation – all of which often accompany tinnitus
- An evaluation of nutrition, (particularly the B complex vitamins), stress levels, exposure to loud noise and hormone balance may be avenues to explore for relief
- Stress-reduction techniques such as exercise, mediation or yoga may help
- Eat a well-balanced diet with adequate levels of B vitamins, zinc, antioxidant, folic acid and vitamin C
- Nutritional supplements
When Should You See A Doctor?
Tinnitus is a benign condition but it can become very irritating and distressing. If the above remedies fail to work or your condition increases to a greater intensity, your healthcare professional may be able to help you further. Elimination or management of this condition will allow for a more tolerable hormonal transition.
Peterson, C., RPh, CNP, What Does Tinnitus Have To Do With Hormones. Retrieved from https://www.womensinternational.com/newsletter/article_tinnitus.html
Tinnitus: Ringing in the ears and what to do about it. Retrieved from Harvard Women’s Health Watch, September 2011.
Review: Could Premarin Cause Tinnitus. (Feb 2011) Retrieved from http://www.ehealthme.com/ds/premarin/tinnitus
Curtis, B., Hormonal Changes in Women & Tinnitus. Retrieved from http://www.tinnitusformula.com/library/hormonal-changes-in-women-tinnitus/
Gray, A. A., The Treatment of Otosclerotic and Similar Types of Deafness by the Local Application of Thyroxine. (May 1985) Proceedings of the Royal Society of Medicine, Volume 28, page 79;
“The Role of Plasma Melatonin and Vitamins C and B12 in the Development of Idiopathic Tinnitus in the Elderly“ by A.O. Lasisi, et al.; Ghana Medical Journal, Volume 46, Number 3; September 2012.
“Chronic Tinnitus: An Interdisciplinary Challenge” by P.M. Kreuzer, et al.; Deutches Arzteblatt International; 2013; 110 (16) 278-84.