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What medications cause ringing in the ears (tinnitus)?

Medically reviewed by Sally Chao, MD. Last updated on March 7, 2022.

Official answer


According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, more than 200 medications can cause tinnitus, but medications are not a common cause. In most cases, when a medication causes tinnitus, the tinnitus goes away when the medication is stopped. There are only a few drugs that may cause permanent tinnitus.

Aspirin was once a common cause of tinnitus in people who were taking large doses for painful inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis. Today, there are better medicines for inflammatory diseases and no reason to take large doses of aspirin. Aspirin is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID). Other NSAIDs such as ibuprofen rarely cause tinnitus. Tinnitus caused by NSAIDs is not permanent and will go away when the drug is stopped or lowered.

There are other medications that may cause tinnitus:

  • Quinine can cause tinnitus, but it is not a common drug in the United States. It may be used to treat malaria in tropical countries. Like aspirin, tinnitus stops when quinine is stopped.
  • Aminoglycoside antibiotics can damage the inner ear and cause permanent tinnitus and hearing loss. This family of antibiotics includes streptomycin and gentamicin. Doctors are aware of this danger and are careful to limit the dose of these drugs.
  • Cancer drugs, called cytotoxic drugs, can cause tinnitus and hearing loss. These drugs contain platinum. A common example is the drug cisplatin. When these drugs are used for cancer treatment, hearing tests may be done to make sure the inner ear is not being affected.
  • Diuretics are water pills used to reduce blood pressure and fluid retention. One type of diuretic may cause tinnitus, called a loop diuretic. Examples include the diuretics ethacrynic acid and acetazolamide. These drugs are rarely used in doses high enough to cause permanent tinnitus.

Many other drugs may cause tinnitus, although they are not a common cause of tinnitus.

About tinnitus

Tinnitus is the medical term for ringing in your ear or ears, although tinnitus may also sound like roaring or buzzing. The most common causes of tinnitus are:

  • Hearing loss that comes with age (presbycusis)
  • Noise damage

Presbycusis often causes tinnitus along with hearing loss. Exposure to loud noise may cause hearing loss and tinnitus.

If you develop tinnitus, let your doctor know. If you have a sudden onset of tinnitus along with other symptoms such as hearing loss or dizziness, let your doctor know right away. These could be symptoms of an inner ear disease.

  1. National Institutes of Health National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD). Tinnitus. March 2017. Available at: [Accessed February 6, 2022].
  2. British Tinnitus Association. Drugs and Tinnitus. September 2022. Available at: [Accessed February 6, 2022].
  3. American Tinnitus Association. Causes. 2022. Available at: [Accessed February 6, 2022].

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