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Tinnitus (ringing in the ears) during benzo withdrawal

Discussion in 'Downers addiction' started by Troppo, Feb 19, 2011.

  1. Troppo

    Troppo Titanium Member

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    Has anyone here actually experienced severe ringing in the ears that have been caused purely by withdrawal from benzodiazepines? This is listed as a symptom by some sources, but there are usually so many things listed as possible symptoms of benzo withdrawal that it becomes hard to differentiate between actual withdrawal symptoms and other medical conditions.

    A friend of mine has been taking alprazolam (Xanax), prescribed by his doctor, for several years. His dose has been 1 mg per day, taken all as one dose at night. He also smokes a smallish dose of cannabis, 2.5-3 cones, at night to help him relax and sleep. He takes nothing at all during the daytime. This type of use is probably unwise due to everything being taken at the same time and only once each 24 hours, and also relying on this for sleep, but he didn't notice too many problems until recently. He has now started to notice various odd and uncomfortable feelings and sensations, which he thinks are withdrawal symptoms from either the Xanax or the cannabis (or both), since the sensations seem to slowly get worse as the day goes on. The latest and most annoying has been a very marked ringing in the ears, accompanied by a mild-moderate sense of pressure in the head and sometimes actual headache, and also the same feeling across the bone of the nose. Pain in his neck for no apparent reason started just before these other symptoms. He hasn't had any injuries, illnesses, or exposure to loud noises. He has seen his doctor but after doing a hearing test the doctor said he is not willing to investigate further, and also not interested in helping this guy switch over to Valium to withdraw from Xanax. The doctor seems to think it's all in this person's head or that he's making a big deal out of nothing. He has tried cutting his dose of Xanax but hasn't been successful yet, and the same goes for the cannabis. I guess he is terrified of letting go of these substances, due to a long history of anxiety and insomnia that he may not be able to treat in any other way.

    Any reports of experiences like this would be greatly appreciated, and possibly helpful in motivating this person to change doctors too so he can get the help he seems to need.

    P.S. He has thought of the obvious, namely taking some extra benzos to see if the problems reduce, but is too worried about becoming dependent on a higher dose than he's already taking. Also the hearing test showed some loss of hearing but this was only around the same frequencies as his ringing, which was present when the test was done and therefore probably caused him to be unable to hear the test-sounds in that frequency area...the doctor did not give any diagnosis after seeing these test results, he just said that some people have hearing loss.
     
    Last edited: Feb 19, 2011
  2. Moving Pictures

    Moving Pictures Titanium Member

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    Yes, my friend has noticed this often during benzo withdrawals. He also gets it when he is very nervous and anxious. He thinks the hightened anxiety from the withdrawals causes it.

    Benzos, namley alprazolam, is commonly used to treat tinnitus.
     
  3. RaoulDuke32

    RaoulDuke32 Silver Member

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    The ringing in the ears has something to do with the static, fuzzyness you get from benzos and benzo w/d. This is a hard thing to explain, but it can be shown in the numbing of extremities during w/ds as well. This is most likely manifestations of the same phenomena, or so it feels like to swim. This is just a half-baked idea.

    It does happen, and cannabis may intensify the affects. If it gets worse, or stays the same even, I would suggest cessation of the cannabis.

    Another thing is this sounds like its mostly mental. Do a personal inventory and find out what going on with you emotionally and otherwise. Couldnt hurt...

    I get strange headaches when its getting to the point in the day when his alprazolam calls him, often accompanied by tinnitus, dizziness, and nausea.

    Even if the doc thinks its all in the patients head, your seeing him for "mental" health. What does he expect? If your doctor didnt even consider changing meds when you asked him for a less addictive one, theres something wrong.

    final verdict: Stop smoking pot for a while, switch doctors and tell them all your concerns and get on diazapam or clonazapam.
     
  4. Porvata

    Porvata Titanium Member

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    Tinnitus and vertigo are common in benzodiazepine withdrawal. After the receptors have been bombarded for so long the body doesn't produce an adequate amount of GABA and there is a rebound effect with an increase in glutamatergic neurotransmission. While in high doses this can cause adrenergic storm (mania, hypertension, tachycardia) and expected glutamate related effects such as seizures, when the rebound is at a fairly low level the glutamate causes an increase in vestibular pressure in the ears as well as some insomnia and anxiety. Increased vestibular pressure results in the vertigo and tinnitus.

    Vestibular suppressants such as anticholinergics and benzodiazepines are commonly prescribed for menieres and other inner ear disorders. Another contributing factor could be hearing loss since when broken the small hairs inside the ear responsible for hearing release glutamate which causes them to vibrate nonstop even without exposure to sound hence causing tinnitus. The more glutamate being produced by the body, the louder the tinnitus. With a small microphone inserted into the ear the ringing can actually be heard on a set of speakers.

    Cannabis also has a mild GABA antagonistic effect, although it also causes vasodilation and increased blood circulation which would improve tinnitus (hence why ginkgo biloba is used by tinnitus sufferers). Unfortunately it seems there's no consensus on the overall effect of cannabis on tinnitus; some people it helps and others it doesn't.
     
  5. Troppo

    Troppo Titanium Member

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    Thanks for the responses so far, this bloke is going to take the advice offered and see how it goes. He has suspected pot for quite some time, and will probably find out if it's a factor once he has stopped for a while.

    He has also been reading that some medications that affect glutamate can be tried for tinnitus, which makes sense. One that comes to mind is acamprosate calcium (Campral) normally used as an alcoholism treatment (a small study was apparently done with it in Brazil for tinnitus). Certain anticonvulsants too, eg. carbamazepine, have been mentioned.

    P.S. For anyone else reading this, for heaven's sake don't stick with a doctor who will not listen to occasional politely-worded suggestions about your own treatment. Patients who show drug-seeking behaviour or talk like they know it all about medicine would naturally put a doctor off-side, but in this particular case, the doctor gets annoyed that a patient has any input at all into the conversation.
     
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2011
  6. salgoud

    salgoud Newbie

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    The is the worst symptom for Leo, because it keeps him up all night. It feels like all the synapses in your brain are singing. Also Leo experiences insomnia until hie gets his script filled, plus dry heaves, terrible panic attacks, and actual fear of impending doom.

    Tinnitus is because of the benzo's. Leo has noticed certain opiates help. Leo feels better it's just not him, but sympathisizes with tropanone because Leo knows what one goes through with severe benzo w/d's.

    Leo read up on it, and it can take a long time users up to a year to feel normal again. It said that benzo's lose their effectiveness after 4 weeks. However, Leo's been on them 5 years, and as long as he has a few, he's OK. Leo has learn to "use as prescribed". It will take him at least one year of tapering to feel right.

    Best of luck, when I go to bed with with a benzo, the ringing goes away or subsides so much Leo doesn't even notice it.

    salgoud
     
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2011
  7. monkeymike

    monkeymike Newbie

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    tinnitus can be a symptom of high blood pressure from stimulant drugs that will go over time

    monkeymike added 4 Minutes and 49 Seconds later...

    Ringing sounds in the ears can often be traced to high blood pressure. If that's the case, think of the ringing as a warning bell to get a complete physical checkup, since blood pressure that is high enough to produce tinnitus may well be wreaking havoc elsewhere in the body. High blood pressure is a primary risk factor for heart disease that, unlike the ringing in your ears, you should never try to ignore.
     
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2011
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