Patients with tinnitus commonly seek symptom relief via cannabis use, according to new research.
The study, published last month in the Journal of Otolaryngology – Head & Neck Surgery, is being called the first “to assess perspectives and usage patterns of cannabis in patients experiencing tinnitus.”
The findings, based on interviews with 45 individuals suffering from tinnitus, showed “that 42% (19/45) of patients had never used cannabis, 36% (16/45) previously used cannabis at some point in the past, and 22% (10/45) reported current cannabis use at the time of questionnaire completion.”
“Of the 10 patients currently using cannabis, 80% (8/10) reported that it helps with tinnitus-related symptoms. Patients reported that it helped with dizziness/unsteadiness/disequilibrium (3/8, 38%), auditory symptoms (3/8, 38%), emotional difficulties (anxiety, depression, feeling upset, fear) (6/8, 75%), pain (headache, neck pain/aches) (7/8, 88%), sleep disturbances (7/8, 88%), and functional difficulties (concentration, fatigue, work disturbances) (4/8, 50%),” the study said.
“Overall, 96% (43/45) of patients responded that they would consider cannabis as a treatment for their tinnitus. Patients also considered cannabis as a viable treatment for their tinnitus-related symptoms,” it continued.
Here is more on the findings:
“Patients considered cannabis use for auditory symptoms (91%), and symptoms related to their tinnitus, such as emotional complaints (60%), sleep disturbances (64%), and functional disturbances (56%). 36% of patients had previously used cannabis and 22% of patients reported cannabis use at the time of the study. 80% of patients that were actively using cannabis reported that it helped with tinnitus-related symptoms, such as dizziness, anxiety, bodily pain, and sleep disturbances. Most patients would prefer to use edibles (62%), tablet (58%) and cream (47%) formulations of cannabis. Patients were concerned about the cost (29%), potential physical health implications (53%) and psychosocial side effects (60%) of cannabis. Over half of patients learned about cannabis from a friend or family member and only 22% of patients learned about cannabis from a physician or nurse.”
The authors of the study believe that the findings could serve as the groundwork for more research, and perhaps even clinical trials that assess the effectiveness of cannabis for tinnitus treatment.
“The results of this study demonstrate an active interest amongst patients with tinnitus to consider cannabis as a potential adjunctive treatment for symptom management. Moreover, cannabis use is both common and can be beneficial in this patient population. An understanding of patient attitudes towards cannabis use is a prerequisite to exploring its potential use in clinical practice,” they wrote in their conclusion.
“Cannabis use is common amongst patients with tinnitus and most participants would consider cannabis as a treatment option to manage their symptoms. Almost all patients were interested in learning more about cannabis if proven to help with symptoms of tinnitus, but physicians must be aware that most patients receive their information on cannabis from non-medical sources. This data may lay the groundwork for future research and clinical trials on cannabis use for tinnitus alleviation. Otolaryngologists can develop an understanding of patient attitudes and usage patterns to guide patient counseling on the use of cannabis for symptoms associated with tinnitus,” they added.
Those who suffer from this are often vexed by the lack of an effective treatment.
The authors noted that “antiepileptic drugs, such as lamotrigine and gabapentin, have been studied as pharmacological treatment for tinnitus, given their inhibitory effect in the central nervous system,” but “there is insufficient evidence to support the use of antiepileptic drugs for tinnitus and it has not shown to be beneficial compared to placebo.”